Statement Condemning Police Violence at CUNY Board of Trustees Public Hearing
PRESS RELEASE: Board of Trustees Public and Budget Hearing, Baruch College, CUNY
#occupyCUNY, November 21, 2011
WE CONDEMN the use of police violence against CUNY community members who were protesting peacefully at the public Board of Trustees Public and Budget Hearing at Baruch College on November 21, 2011. We also reject the official statement(1) released by the administration of the City University of New York regarding those events.
STUDENTS, FACULTY, AND STAFF peacefully entered the Baruch lobby to attend the public meeting of the Board of Trustees and were immediately met by a line of police carrying large wooden truncheons and blocking access to the building. Students who were on the official roster of speakers were also denied access. At no time did the students, faculty, and staff attempt to push past the massed police officers, nor to confront them physically in any way. The police directed us to the first-floor overflow room where the meeting would be televised live. Knowing that our voices would not be heard in the broadcast room, we deiced to hold an assembly in the lobby and allow people to tell their stories and testimonies of experiences as students at CUNY. Most of us sat on the ground so that speakers could stand and be heard.
THE POLICE ATTACKED US shortly after we sat down and began pushing us toward the wall, responding to our peaceful, lawful protest with physical confrontation. The suggestion provided in the CUNY administration’s statement that anyone “surged forward toward the college’s identification turnstiles, where they were met by CUNY Public Safety officers and Baruch College officials” is a categorical lie, and this is documented in the video footage of events (see below [update: see this page]). As the officers continued to push us away from the public meeting, they blocked all exists from the lobby but a single, revolving door, through which we were forced to walk one at a time. Many of the peaceful protesters were shoved violently by the campus police, jabbed and struck in their ribs with wooden truncheons, and left badly bruised. At least one student was struck in the face. It was a miracle that no one was more seriously injured. Those who refused to leave were told that they would be arrested; when one person identified himself to others as a CUNY faculty member and asked on what charge he would be arrested, he was not given an answer. Another officer blurted, “Because it’s a riot!”
WE DEPLORE THE USE OF VIOLENCE against peaceful protesters. We deplore the criminal charges made against peaceful protesters exercising their Constitutional rights of free speech and peaceful assembly. We also deplore the CUNY administration’s misrepresentation of the events at Baruch, devised to obscure its complicity in violent action against its own students, faculty, staff, and community.
For more information, and for video footage of the events of 11/21/2011, please visit: http://studentweekofaction.wordpress.com/2011/11/22/press-release-bot-public-hearing/
(1) CUNY Newswire. “STATEMENT FROM THE CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK”. 21 November 2011. (http://www1.cuny.edu/mu/forum/2011/11/21/statement-from-the-city-university-of-new-york-2). Accessed 21 November, 2011.