Friday, October 31, 2008
Audience members were escorted out of a McCain campaign event in Cedar Falls questioned why they were asked to leave Sunday’s rally even though they were not protesting.
David Zarifis, director of public safety for the University of Northern Iowa, said McCain staffers requested UNI police assist in escorting out “about four or five” people from the rally prior to McCain’s appearance.
Lara Elborno, a student at the University of Iowa, said she was approached by a police officer and a McCain staffer and was told she had to leave or she would be arrested for trespassing. “It was a very confusing, very frustrating situation,” Elborno said. “I said that I had a right to be there, I wasn’t doing anything disruptive — I was sitting, waiting for the rally to start.”
She said McCain staffers wouldn’t tell her why she was being asked to leave and when she got outside, she saw “a group of about 20 people” who had all been asked to leave.
Elborno said after seeing the people who were asked to leave, she was concerned that McCain’s staffers were profiling people on appearance to determine who might be a potential protester.
Elborno said even McCain supporters were among those being asked to leave.
“I saw a couple that had been escorted out and they were confused as well, and the girl was crying, so I said ‘Why are you crying? and she said ‘I already voted for McCain, I’m a Republican, and they said we had to leave because we didn’t look right,’” Elborno said. “They were handpicking these people and they had nothing to go off of, besides the way the people looked.”