[Marxism] New School protests continue
lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Apr 11 09:13:52 MDT 2009
NY Times, April 11, 2009
After Occupation Ends, Tensions Flare Again
By JAVIER C. HERNANDEZ and AL BAKER
More than 20 people occupied a building on the New School campus in
Greenwich Village on Friday, demanding that the school’s embattled
president, Bob Kerrey, be ousted. But unlike a similar protest in
December that was peacefully negotiated to an end after 30 hours,
Friday’s ordeal was concluded in a few hours after the school asked the
police to remove the protesters.
Tensions flared again at 10 p.m. when about 200 protesters rallied in
Union Square against Mr. Kerrey’s leadership of the school. The rally
turned into an impromptu march south toward Mr. Kerrey’s house. The
police blocked the protesters at about 11th Street and prevented the
marchers from getting close to the house.
After being turned away, the marchers headed north and then east to
Fifth Avenue. Some of the protesters said several of the marchers were
taken into custody, but the police said they could not confirm any
arrests. By early Saturday, there was still a large police presence in
the area, and a handful of students mingled on the sidewalks.
Police had set up barricades on the east side of Fifth Avenue between
13th and 14th Streets, where the building that was occupied earlier in
the day is located.
The earlier protest began about 5:30 a.m. Police officers surrounded the
building, and by 11 a.m., several dozen of them had lined up outside,
carrying batons and with plastic handcuffs on their belts. At one point,
the police said, about 20 officers went in.
By the end of the operation, 22 people were arrested, 19 of them on
burglary, riot and criminal mischief charges. Two of the 19 were also
charged with assault, and one with assault and grand larceny. The police
had removed banners hung by the students at the building, at 65 Fifth
Avenue, near Union Square. The 22 were expected to be arraigned Friday
While the protesters were being arrested, sympathizers on the street
yelled at the police. A video shot on the street by a Brooklyn
videographer appeared to show one officer pushing a man in the face and
knocking him to the ground before he was arrested. A police spokesman,
Paul J. Browne, would not characterize the officer’s actions, saying
only, “He pushed him and he fell down.”
Mr. Browne denied accounts by students that officers had used pepper
spray in making the arrests. But after watching the video clip taken by
the Brooklyn man, which showed officers spraying a substance into the
building where the protesters were, he acknowledged its use. “Now, once
I see it, I know what is going on,” Mr. Browne said.
He said the conduct of the officer who shoved the man must be viewed in
context, noting that 30 to 40 people had tried to storm a side door and
that officers were trying to make arrests.
“There were individuals interfering with an arrest being made, and he
was one of them, and they pushed into him and he fell down,” he said.
Donna Lieberman, the executive director for the New York Civil Liberties
Union, said the video raised “serious concerns,” adding, “That is a
violation of civil rights plain and simple.”
In defending the officers, Mr. Browne cited two other videos — one from
the Police Department showing a detective negotiating politely with
protesters while they were in the building, the other a hazy video shot
by another photographer that shows a small group of people upending a
metal barricade and police officers trying to arrest protesters as they
ran down a sidewalk.
Mr. Kerrey’s leadership has come under attack in recent months, with
some faculty members and students accusing him of being too secretive
and failing to consult with them as he sought to shake up the school.
Mr. Kerrey’s lack of a Ph.D. and early support of the Iraq war has also
In December, shortly after Mr. Kerrey, a Vietnam war veteran and former
Nebraska governor and senator, announced that he would also take on the
role of provost after losing his fourth provost in seven years,
professors gave him an overwhelming vote of no-confidence.
Students and faculty in recent months have pressed for the resignation
of Mr. Kerrey and his executive vice president, James Murtha.
On Friday afternoon, Mr. Kerrey, through a spokeswoman, declined to
comment on the latest protest.
In a statement, schools officials defended the decision to call the
police, saying that protesters had forcibly entered the building and
injured a security officer.
Students involved in the occupation, many of whom were part of a group
called New School in Exile, will be suspended, according to the statement.
Sewell Chan and Colin Moynihan contributed reporting.
Correction: April 11, 2009
A previous version of this article was imprecise about the charges
against those arrested. Nineteen people were arrested on burglary, riot
and criminal mischief charges. Of those, two were also charged with
assault and one with assault and grand larceny.
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