Brooklyn College Campus Police and the NYPD assaulted peaceful student demonstrators outside of President Gould’s office today on campus. Multiple students were pushed against walls, thrown through doorways, and knocked to the floor, a disabled student was assaulted and had her cane taken from her, and multiple students were arrested and literally carried away by the NYPD.
by Charlie Kerr
from the Socialist Webzine
Today during a non-violent action against tuition hikes, NYPD surveillance of Muslim students, privatization, and the massive, police-state security apparatus on campus, Brooklyn College Campus Police, led by the NYPD, assaulted peaceful student demonstrator’s outside of the office of the university’s president. The mood on campus today had been grimly authoritarian since morning; multiple campus security guards were posed at each entrance, religiously checking ID’s, and a van full of NYPD officers was waiting just off of campus, in view of our quad.
The action began on the quad with street theatre, speakers, the people’s mike, and even free pizza. The mood was relaxed and jovial, with one campus security officer even reporting back that, “Everything is quiet.” Suddenly however, an anonymous activist draped a red banner out of the 5th story window of Boylan Hall, our central building. The banner read:”1,2,3,4, tuiton hikes are class war, 5,6,7,8, students will retaliate!”
Students organizers leading the action then began chanting the words from the banner, forming a column of roughly 30-40 students who marched into Boylan Hall to the second floor office of our president, Karen Gould. Six students, including myself, made a human chain in front of the door of her office and sat down, while a group of roughly thirty students and professors began using the people’s mike to lead chants and speak-outs in the hallway. The NYPD and campus security slowly encircled the demonstrators, and after warning those of us sitting-in that we would be arrested if we did not move, they announced that they had to clear the hallway.
The crowd failed to disperse, but parted to allow people through. The police entered the aisle created by the crowd and were standing by to begin arresting the sit-in. Suddenly, the crowd started to move and the hallway filled with yelling as the NYPD violently shoved the people on the edges of the crowd on both sides down the hallway and ordered them to disperse. The officers then used the ensuing chaos to begin dragging away those of us who were sitting in, starting with me, on the end. I and the others sitting down were grabbed by the officers and dragged to the doorway of the nearest stairwell, at which point I was told to “just get the hell out of here,” and shoved into the doorway, opening it with my face. A few others were tossed through the doorway after me, we re-grouped in the stairwell and joined the demonstrators on the other side of the hallway, who were not allowing the police to move them down the hallway, soft-blocking them and doing a decent job of holding the line.
This prompted the officers to begin grabbing students and attempting to drag them behind the police line. However, the students would not allow this to happen, and managed to pull the police off of every person they attempted to snatch away. This resistance prompted a melee of police brutality, including multiple students being slammed against walls, knocked to the floor, manhandled, and injured. Personally, I was grabbed by the arm and shoulder and slammed into a wall by a cop after helping to pull him off of another protestor. Most disgusting however was the assault on a disabled protestor by a group of NYPD and BC-PD officers, who took her cane and attempted to drag her behind their lines to be arrested, which was only thwarted by the efforts of multiple other demonstrators to physically separate her from the officers.
We managed to make a tactical retreat outside; losing the hallway but suffering only one arrest. That student, an organizer who had been pushed to the ground by a cop with enough force that her eyes were cloudy after her head hit the floor, was carried out of Boylan and off of campus by three NYPD officers. A second student was arrested attempting to separate her from the officers. While today was a shocking spectacle of police state brutality, it was also a show of force and solidarity by the student body that will not be easily forgotten by Gould or the NYPD.