[Marxism] New School protests continue

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Apr 11 09:13:52 MDT 2009

NY Times, April 11, 2009
After Occupation Ends, Tensions Flare Again

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 
drawn criticism.

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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