Protests at CUNY

From the January-February 2014 issue of News & Letters:

Protests at CUNY

New York, N.Y.—On Oct. 20, during the middle of midterms, students at City University of New York (CUNY) heard that the Guillermo Morales/Assata Shakur Center was being locked down. City College alumnus David Suker sat down in front of the door in protest, which eventually led to his arrest.

Less than 24 hours later, students from the Revolutionary Student Coordination Committee were able to pull together a good turnout at a protest to reclaim the space. The Guillermo Morales/Assata Shakur Center is directed by students-of-color clubs, as well as marginalized peoples clubs like the Black Student Union, New York Students Rising, and organizations that are building Leftist movements on campus.

Students use that space as a resource. It has been a space within City College that was won and continuously fought for over years of struggle—because the administration has continuously attempted to take it away. Stories of infiltration and NYPD spying on students within college campuses have also been recorded in spaces like this. We believe that this is happening as a direct form of repression against students who are mobilizing antiwar efforts on campus.

The Oct. 24 sit-in and protest at CUNY turned confrontational in the afternoon when a protester was pepper-sprayed and arrested for “endangering the welfare of a minor, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest.”

On Oct. 30, CUNY students Tafadar Sourov and Khalil Vasquez were approached by CUNY public safety officers and told to leave the campus. After taking their school IDs, public safety proceeded to threaten them: “They told us that if we came back onto campus we would be arrested. We couldn’t attend any of our classes,” said Sourov. “They (the Administration) wanted to stop our revolutionary leadership among the student body, and saw that we were exposing the militarization of CUNY,” said Vasquez.

After students heard about Sourov and Vasquez’s suspension, they attempted to speak with the VP of Student Affairs Juana Reina but were told that she was booked for the day. Subsequently, Sourov and Vasquez were ordered by the New York State Police and the New York County District Attorney’s office to present themselves to be arrested and are now facing criminal charges.

—New Yorker

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