Activists should not be victims of police brutality
With a warm thank you to the Rutgers student body for their resolution of support for the Morales/Shakur Community Center for the people, I must send this report to our brothers and sisters at Rutgers University.
In the incoming fall semester, City University of New York has been hit with shameful gloom. Back in March 1971, the Reserve Officer Training Corps was thrown off CUNY campus after student protests were heeded across the globe during the unforgivable Vietnam War. In the fall semester of 2012 and spring semester of this year, CUNY reinstated ROTC courses on three of its colleges as an attempt to further institute CUNY as a blatant “war college” in which to recruit working-class students from predominantly neglected impoverished neighborhoods throughout New York City. In a non-coincidental act of militarization, CUNY hired former Central Intelligence Agency Director and war criminal David Petraeus to teach a course at the CUNY Macaulay Honors College. Unhappy with the decision to hire Petraeus, organizers and student activists united in forming the Ad Hoc Committee Against the Militarization of CUNY to protest against this breach of student safety and covert hostile militarization. Petraeus an operative overseer of weapons and tactics used in Iraq and Afghanistan is linked to the death of over 100,000 civilians. He has also worked closely with Col. James Steele who headed multiple death squads in El Salvador.
After initial demonstrations outside the classes on Sept. 9, the Macaulay Honors College chose to hold a fundraising Gala on Oct. 16 to honor war criminal Petraeus, war proponent Fareed Zakaria of CNN and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Plainclothes and other NYPD launched an attack on the students and peaceful demonstration. After sudden arrival of a New York Police Department captain and his regiment of blue-shirt NYPD, the captain began to point out and grab different organizers, physically agitating a number of students from Queens College club, Students Without Borders, before proceeding to attack before my eyes various in a cornered-off section in front of a building lobby. Police physically assaulted these organizers while other brutal and ruthless officers pointed out student organizer Luis Henriquez and dealt him unprovoked striking blows to the kidney. Video footage can be found online of three of the six NYPD assaults. Students were held for nearly 20 hours by the state before released. The night of the brutality police of the 20th precinct intimidatingly followed concerned friends of the CUNY six outside the precinct until the departure of the passive group. Hundreds of signatures of support and statements of solidarity came from a multitude of CUNY professors, adjuncts, the Professional Staff Congress and other organizations.
Right-wing media intensified its scrutiny of my brave comrades. The following Monday Oct. 21 outside the Petraeus class, state forces, government security, undercover and NYPD were out in excessive numbers and turning away civilians from entering West 65th Street and Broadway including citizens who came for the demonstration. At a panel held at John Jay College on Oct. 15 in defense of the CUNY six, NYPD and John Jay security barred entry of Queens College and halted the distribution of flyers. Petraeus security followed committee members in attempt to spy at Central Park. A similar tactic was used against the MSA at Rutgers University.
The state continued its offensive against the passive organizers and activists when City College of New York launched a seizure of the student-won Morales/Shakur Community Center used by the Ad Hoc Committee, the CUNY six and a number of organizations. The center has been an open space for constructive student and community work for the past twenty years. This blatant attack on the Morales/Shakur Community Center induced a valiant demonstration and attempt to take back the space by student and community organizers. CUNY security and police retaliated by arresting a student and beating and pepper spraying army veteran and CUNY alumnus David Suker in front of his young son at the CCNY demonstration. This would not be the end of the state offensive as two more students, members of Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee, were suspended for no given reason by administration. Later that day CCNY was on lockdown and all exits but one were closed for fear of protest, leaving a student assaulted by five CUNY security officers as he attempted to exit CCNY. The student was not affiliated with the anti-militarization campaign or any other protest.
All forms of dissent against militarization and imperialism shown by student body representatives at CUNY campuses are being dealt with harsh extremities and physical punishment. The resistance is seen as an imperative threat to the well being of the structural upheaval of minority working class youth to be signed to fight minority communities from the “third world.” The Ad Hoc committee and other groups are continually planning demonstrations scheduled to take place at the Morales/Shakur center and the suspended students on Nov. 8. Planned for Nov. 13 Students Without Borders of Queens College will be holding “H.E.R Mic” a free hip-hop event to raise awareness on the detrimental assault being waged by CUNY to prepare for an anti-war movement general assemble at the campus on Nov 21. On Nov. 25 the CUNY Board of Trustees will be trying to pass a bill banning all non-processed/non-approved demonstrations or protests. This would decrease any remaining hope to the already hindered use of free speech by all students on all the 23 CUNY campuses. We are call for solidarity with the radical left for Nov. 25 in objection to this repressive decree.
Jesse Marcus is a junior at Queens College in New York and emcee for Students Without Borders at Queens College.