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A Frontline Report from Wednesday’s Police Riot at Brooklyn College

Rayya El Zein May 3, 2012

Building off the momentum of May Day, on May 2nd 2012, over a hundred militarization, and NYPD surveillance on CUNY campuses. After dropping a 50 foot-long banner that read, “1-2-3-4 Tuition Fees are Class War, 5-6-7-8 Student will retaliate!”, students marched into Boylan Hall, up to the second floor, and outside of Brooklyn College President Karen’s Gould’s office.  Demanding that the President speak with them, and emphasizing that all other legitimate means of addressing their grievances had been ignored, a handful of students held a sit-in in peaceful protest with arms locked in front of her door.

In retaliation, CUNY campus security and NYPD officers, as instructed by President Gould and the CUNY administration, dragged the students apart from each other and proceeded to use excessive force: pushing, shoving, and deliberately suffocating students so as to disperse them. Multiple students report being punched in the face and abdomen by campus security guards. The campus security went so far as throw the cane of a disabled asthmatic student, Cecelia Adams, who screamed “I am hurt, this is why I have this cane”.  After throwing her cane across the room, security proceeded to kick her and scream at her. At least one faculty member was trapped and shoved between security officers repeatedly. Two students were arrested from the group as part of this action, one of whom was dragged and dropped down stairs and across the campus grounds.

Over the next five years, the CUNY Board of Trustees and the New York State legislature is implementing a $1,500 tuition increase. Students, faculty, and staff are now regularly intimidated and harassed for peacefully assembling. In the aftermath of CUNY campus security and NYPD brutality at Baruch College on November 21, 2011, this repeated endangerment of students and faculty at Brooklyn College demonstrates that violent force upon nonviolent gatherings is not exceptional, but an increasingly standardized repression at CUNY.

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