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LSESU Debate Society Withdraws Invitation for Roger Hallam

London, UK. 25th April 2017. Police carry Roger Hallam, one of the campaigners who painted the slogan 'Cut Directos Pay - Boost Workers - You now it makes Sense'' and coloured spots in wipeable poster paint on the Garrick Building at the LSE in a colourful nonviolent direct action to a waiting police van. The campaigners were calling on the LSE to change from what they say is thirty years of growing neglect, cruelty and outright corporate greed towards workers and staff at the school to something beautiful and life affirming. They called on the LSE director to take a pay cut of £100,000 in her £500,000 salary to improve pay and conditions of the lowest paid workers who are on under £9 per hour and have unpaid breaks. After painting the slogan and decorations, they sat outside and held a party waiting to see the director who they had sent a letter to. Peter Marshall/Alamy Live News

Image courtesy of Peter Marshall, 2017

The LSESU Debate Society have withdrawn their invitation to a Fabian Series debate from Roger Hallam, ex-KCL PhD student and co-founder of the environmental organisation Extinction Rebellion.

Last Wednesday Hallam was quoted in an interview in Der Spiegel calling the Holocaust “almost a normal event…just another fuckery in human history”.

Hallam was set to speak in the Centre Building on 5 December. He has been replaced with Dr Emily Grossman, Jewish science communicator and XR representative. The motion to be debated at the event is titled: “This House Believes Extinction Rebellion has done more harm than good in the fight against climate change.” Also attending is Green Party MEP Dr Ellie Chowns.

Extinction Rebellion UK is reported to have distanced itself from Hallam as a result. They have stated: “We stand in solidarity with XR Germany, with Jewish communities, and with all those affected by the Holocaust, both in the past and in our times.” What this means for the ‘leadership’ and public face of Extinction Rebellion is uncertain.

In a Facebook post the day after publication, Hallam stated he was “sorry for the crass words that I used. I do not feel the need to apologise for drawing attention to the genocide that is happening now.

“We must learn from the past, from tragedies like the Holocaust and other genocides, to prevent the horror of the near future. Despite my poorly phrased statement, I still strongly demand action on the preventable genocide that so many are ignoring across the world.”

On Sunday Freedom News published an article including a leaked email memo allegedly written by Hallam. The memo states: “we use the moral outrage of the opposition and turn it around to expose their own radical immorality”.

The memo continues: “I am interested in saying ‘outrageous’ things at the LSE debate on 5th Dec (I think) to create another media event which we can turn around to our advantage in a similar way. I think designing this sort of ‘trap’ for the media has strong similarities to on the street direct action dynamics and we should be pro actively de- signing them as part of M and M Strategy to maximise the power of our messaging.”

The Beaver spoke to Matthew Bradbury and Hamza Tariq Chaudhry, organisers of this year’s Fabian Series and members of LSESU Debate Society: “The LSE Debate Society has worked to organise public debates central to the public interest…Appropriately, we decided to host a debate on Extinction Rebellion, working to secure XR’s most recognisable face, Mr Roger Hallam.

“However, Mr Hallam’s comments earlier this week about the Holocaust were trivialising and utterly inappropriate…While the Debate Society values free speech and considers the issue of climate change to be of grave concern to the public, it would be inappropriate to knowingly give a platform to an individual who has the intent to make similar inflammatory and insensitive comments which would only serve to inflict further hurt on our student community. We are thus withdraw- ing our invitation for Mr Hallam to speak at our event.”

According to London Student, Hallam dropped out of an undergraduate degree at LSE “to be an activist and go to prison.” He described his PhD research at King’s College as a study “in how to cause trouble effectively” and alternatives in how to promote radical activism.

Hallam was also arrested in 2017 for criminal damage to LSE property as part of the Justice for Cleaners campaign, stating that “If [LSE] wishes to avoid damage to its international reputation, which will inevitably result from of our campaign of civil disobedience, it needs to follow the advice of its academics: cut Director pay and provide decent working conditions for all its workers.”

Full statement from Bradbury and Chaudhry below:

“The LSE Debate Society has worked to organise public debates central to the public interest; one of these debates is the issue of climate change, most recently brought to the public’s attention through Extinction Rebellion. Appropriately, we decided to host a debate on Extinction Rebellion, working to secure XR’s most recognisable face, Mr Roger Hallam. However, Mr Hallam’s comments earlier this week about the Holocaust were trivialising and utterly inappropriate. We were almost immediately in correspondence with representatives of student groups at LSE who taken most grievance with this statement, and have worked to ensure that their concerns are valued and considered. However, a further leaked memo from XR yesterday indicates that Mr Hallam deliberately made these controversial comments for publicity and intends to employ a similar strategy at our event on the 5th of December. While the Debate Society values free speech and considers the issue of climate change to be of grave concern to the public, it would be inappropriate to knowingly give a platform to an individual who has the intent to make similar inflammatory and insensitive comments which would only serve to inflict further hurt on our student community. We are thus withdrawing our invitation for Mr Hallam to speak at our event.”

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