Protesting girl carried off Brooklyn College campus

As I walked from Boylan Hall to Ingersol Hall at Brooklyn College, I heard a group of people shouting something. I wasn’t sure where it was coming from, but I knew that I heard this: “No justice, no peace, F**K THE POLICE!” After looking around, I realized that what had taken place on other campuses was now taking place on my campus. The police were carrying a girl off of the campus.

The only thing I saw was two police officers carrying a girl towards the Bedford Avenue entrance of the campus while college students chanted the above saying at the officers and recorded every moment of the event on smartphones and cameras. According to one of my friends who saw the event actually take place, the police grabbed the girl because she was playing a tambourine in Boylan Hall and wouldn’t move to the side of the hallway when asked to.

The protesting girl being carried off Brooklyn College campus. (Credit: C.A. 2012)

 

If this is the main reason she was grabbed, the police were in their rights to do so. She was disturbing the peace and obstructing traffic in the building, and she refused to move. However, that doesn’t mean that the cops should’ve done it. In the words of Dr. Ian Malcolm from Jurassic Park, “they were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

By doing this, the police have no doubt sparked a lot of hate amongst the protesters. I don’t think that was the smartest move at all, but I’m not a cop, so I don’t know what would have been the right move. What I really believe wasn’t right was how the police and school security staff were treated. To curse out a group of people (who we’re taught from an early age to trust) so savagely and aggressively is disgraceful. Sure, I would be scared and angry at the cops taking away one of my friends / acquaintances too, but there were less-aggressive ways to react.

Now I don’t fully agree with EITHER party involved. However what I know is wrong is how after the girl was removed and the protesters had stopped screaming, I saw some people cursing out Brooklyn College staff and shouting “Where were you!?” I think they were members of the custodial staff or the Boylan Hall medical crew, but I’m not sure. Either way, I don’t think they were involved at all, and to treat them so poorly was absolutely wrong.

One man was shouting about how the BC staff “make sh*t money,” and others were shouting about how the police were assaulting the woman. When I heard these things I lost all respect for the protesters, because these things had NOTHING to do with the problem (a girl was carried off campus by the police). It seems like they wanted something like this to happen so they could get some video for YouTube and they’d have an excuse to curse out the cops. No doubt that the cops may have wanted to be able to throw someone off campus (which is why I can’t fully side with either party), but this doesn’t change what happened: a girl disobeyed police officers on a college campus and was then removed from the campus.

UPDATE (5/10/12): President Karen Gould sent out a mass email this morning to discuss the events of protest on May 2. Here is what she said:

Dear students, faculty, and staff,

As I have stated on a number of occasions, Brooklyn College is committed to upholding the constitutional right to free speech of everyone on our campus.  As President, it is also my responsibility to ensure the safety of our college community and to ensure that its members can pursue the essential work of the college.

As you may be aware, on Wednesday, May 2, a demonstration was held on our campus that resulted in the arrest of two students. Regrettably, some of those involved have chosen to misstate or ignore the facts in order to advance their agenda.  I write you today to correct the record.

Some days prior to May 2, the college became aware, through a variety of Internet sources, of plans to hold a large demonstration on our campus for students from across New York City.  At no time did the students, faculty, or organizations responsible for coordinating the demonstration activities of May 2 approach the college to discuss their plans.  Without any notice regarding the demonstrators’ plans or the numbers of individuals who might come to our campus, we increased the number of peace officers assigned to campus entrances and took appropriate measures to safeguard our students, faculty, and staff.

Once underway, the demonstration proceeded peacefully and without incident on the central quad, much like similar events held over the past several months.  However, when signaled by a banner unfurled from the fourth floor of Boylan Hall, approximately 40-50 protesters rushed into the building and up to the second floor, chanting loudly, yelling profanities, and eventually blocking access to the hallway and nearby offices.  After ignoring repeated requests from peace officers to clear a path to all entrances, including the Office of the President, the demonstrators were escorted down the hall and out of the building.

As the crowd was exiting at the direction of public safety personnel, one of the protestors reportedly pushed a peace officer to the floor.  She sustained several injuries.  For this reason, the protestor was placed under arrest.  A second protestor refused to leave the hallway and, according to the incident report, deliberately attempted to prevent officers from escorting the crowd out of the building; she was also arrested. It is the responsibility of the district attorney’s office, not the college, to determine how these cases will proceed.

Contrary to some misinformed accounts, at no time during the demonstration on May 2 did officers from the NYPD enter our campus.  Due to information available online, the NYPD, of its own accord, placed officers outside our campus gates.  Moreover, no peace officers or other personnel on our campus used pepper spray, batons, or riot cuffs, as alleged.

Based upon the video that I and other staff members have viewed, and based upon reports from personnel on the scene, I am confident that our peace officers took appropriate action to ensure the safety of our campus, including the safety of those involved in the demonstration, and to maintain access to hallways, offices, and classrooms.  If specific allegations to the contrary come to light, we will conduct an immediate review.

Regarding the larger issues associated with this and other recent student demonstrations, I have said publicly and in writing that I share the concerns of many students and faculty about the regrettable reductions to public higher education in recent years, which have resulted in an increase in tuition costs for students and their families.  At Brooklyn College, we have been and are taking a number of steps to ensure that our neediest students are not negatively affected.  I discussed these and other relevant issues in my recent State of the College Address [http://www.brooklyn.cuny.edu/web/about/administration/president/address/2012spring.php], which I encourage you to read.  In it, I report on a number of budgetary initiatives and on a new financial assistance program for needy students that we will carry out at the campus level, the details of which will be announced later this month.

To reiterate, the college is committed to supporting free speech on campus.  This does not mean, however, that an individual or group of individuals may impede the rights of others to perform their duties and pursue their studies.  In order to work together as an educational community, the rights of everyone at Brooklyn College need to be respected so that we can fulfill the essential activities and responsibilities of our core mission.

Amen, President Gould. After reading this email, I felt fully informed about the actual events that took place on May 2, and I felt safe on my campus (two things that the protestors were not able to do for me). I fully support her and all BC staff.

About Daniel

Daniel is a graduate of CUNY Macaulay Honors College at Brooklyn College, summa cum laude with a B.A. in Film Production and TV/Radio. He can be reached via his website, www.passingplanes.com. The Utopia of Daniel was his college blog and he has since transitioned to posting on other sites.