October 23, 2019
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Occupy Augusta protesters call on Colby College to disassociate from scandal-plagued former Barclays chief

WATERVILLE, Maine — Several protesters assembled at Colby College on Saturday to ask the institution to disassociate itself from former Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond.

About a dozen protesters stood outside of the Diamond Building, which is named for the current Colby College board of trustees chairman. A few cars honked as the protesters held up signs calling for Diamond’s resignation.

“For Diamond’s name to be attached to the college in any way, in particularly as chairman of the board of trustees, is a travesty. It just can’t continue,” said Jody Spear of Brooksville, who graduated from Colby in 1963.

Diamond resigned as chief executive of Barclays on July 3 in the midst of a scandal regarding interest rate reports of its interbank borrowing rates that were falsified. That data goes into the calculation of a key market index, the London interbank offered rate, according to the Associated Press. Barclays was fined $453 million by U.S. and British agencies for its submission of those false reports.

Diamond, a 1973 graduate of Colby, donated $6 million towards a building that would be named after him, the Diamond Building. Construction began on the building in April 2005 and it opened in February 2007. It houses eight departments, including economics and government, along with the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs.

“The administration has to cut him loose,” said Spear. “He’s a real liability for a college that purports to be offering a good liberal arts education, and here the example Diamond is setting is about cheating.”

Augusta’s Ed Bonenfant, one of the Occupy Augusta protesters on campus on Saturday, urged the college to look into the funds Diamond has donated to the school over the years.

“We basically want them to audit all of the funds they got from Robert Diamond to discover whether or not these were clean or dirty funds and to take his name off the building and fire him,” said Bonenfant.

Diane Messer of Liberty said she wants to tell the community about Diamond and his involvement with the school.

“We imagine that there are some people who don’t know what this building stands for,” Messer said. “Why is Colby refusing to disassociate itself with Diamond? And we just want people to know about that, especially students and alumni.”

“Where’s president [William] Adams? Where is he saying it’s okay?” Lew Kingsbury of Pittston asked.

“This could be Colby’s Penn State moment,” added Kingsbury, referring to the Jerry Sandusky sexual assault scandal from earlier this year, where Sandusky was indicted on 52 counts of sexual abuse dating back to 1994.

Representatives from the college could not not be reached over the weekend.

Several of the protesters were among those arrested in November after jumping a fence at the Blaine House in Augusta. Messer, Bonenfant, Jim Freeman of Verona Island and Kim Cormier of Benton were outside the Diamond Building on Saturday. They were charged with criminal trespass and failure to disperse.

“We are about to have a retrial,” said Messer. “It would be more intelligent, and a better part of valor, I might say, to dismiss the charges for a very minor criminal charge, a Class E misdemeanor. They’re taking full jury time and space on the court calendar in superior court when there are a lot of serious cases waiting to be heard.”

Messer said the trial starts on Wednesday in Kennebec County Superior Court in Augusta.

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