Unprovoked Police Attack on Peaceful Protest by CUNY Students and Faculty against ex-Gen. David Petraeus

Ad Hoc Committee Against the Militarization of CUNY, moc.liamgnull@eettimmocynuccohda

NEW YORK, 17 September — Six students were arrested this evening in a brutal, unprovoked police attack against a peaceful protest by City University of New York students and faculty against CUNY’s appointment of former CIA chief ex-General David Petraeus. Students were punched, slammed against vehicles and against the pavement by police captains and officers, after the NYPD forced them off the pavement and into the street. The demonstration was called by the Ad Hoc Committee Against the Militarization of CUNY.

The arrested students are presently being held and are to be arraigned this Wednesday, September 18, at some point between 9:00 a.m. and the afternoon in the Arraignment Court in the Manhattan Criminal Court at 100 Centre Street. All defenders of students’ basic right to protest are urged to come to the arraignment and show their support.

“As students were chanting ‘War Criminal Petraeus Out of CUNY Now,’ I was shocked to see several police officers grab and brutalize one of the demonstrators,” said City College student Yexenia Vanegas. “This was completely unprovoked, as demonstrators made clear that they were there to defend our university in a peaceful protest.” The attack occured in front of CUNY’s Macaulay Honors College, where Petraeus has been appointed to teach a class on public policy. “Protestors were marching in a circle on the sidewalk and chanting, but the police forced them into the street and then charged. One of the most brutal things I saw was that five police officers slammed a Queens College student face down to the pavement across the street from Macaulay, put their knees on his back and he was then repeatedly kneed in the back,” said Hunter student Michael Brian. The student was one of those pointed out by “white shirt” officers, then seized and brutalized. A Latina woman student was heaved through the air and slammed to the ground.

A broad range of CUNY students, faculty and staff members, have been carrying out a campaign of “protest and exposure” against the Board of Trustees’ appointment of Petraeus, whose documented actions as Iraq/Afghanistan war commander and CIA chief include drone attacks upon civilians, and the creation of torture centers and death squads. When Petraeus was setting up Special Police Commandos, the “dirty tactics” that were used included the use of white phosphorus, a chemical weapon, against the population in Fallujah. “Petraeus’ man” Col. James Steele, who organized death squads in Central America, had been brought to the area for the same purpose.

With the NYPD being sent to brutalize and arrest CUNY students on behalf of a certified war criminal, organizers state that this blatant use of police brutality against peaceful protestors wil not intimidate or deter those who expose the truth about the actions of David “Death Squad” Petraeus and oppose attempts to turn the City University into “a war college.”


Condemn Petraeus and Interim Chancellor Kelly!

Uphold the CUNY 6 and the Campaign to End the Militarization of CUNY! 

The interim CUNY chancellor William B. Kelly recently sent a letter  to the Board of Trustees regarding the September 17, 2013 demonstration against a fundraiser at Macaulay Honors College featuring “professor” David Petraeus and apologist for U.S. imperialism Fareed Zakaria.

The demonstration was organized by the Ad Hoc Committee Against the Militarization of CUNY, a united front in which the Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee (RSCC) is a leading participant.

While the interim chancellor’s letter mentions the demonstration, it consciously neglects to address the brutality that the NYPD used in arresting demonstrators. Instead the letter claims that “a few demonstrators resisted police efforts, and six arrests were made.” The letter continues: “The university takes every measure to ensure that Dr. Petraeus was able to teach and conduct scholarly activities, without harassment or obstruction.” Further, the institution “-will not tolerate disruption of the free exchange of ideas and the essential work of the university.” This is a mischaracterization of not only the events of September 17, but of the campaign as a whole.

First, there is no mention that the protest was both peaceful and legal. The CUNY 6 (many who are RSCC members) did nothing to justify the intense violence employed by the NYPD.

Second, we are demonstrating against Petraeus as a symptom of the militarization process, not as an individual, nor because of his so-called “ideas” that he propagates in his so-called “class.” We are not infringing on his ‘free-speech’, but we are contesting his function in the academy as a symbol of U.S. imperialism.

Third, the bourgeois media have characterized our September 9 action against Petraeus as “harassment.” Due to the role that the media plays in reproducing social relations, they are unable to grasp that we are engaged in a militant struggle against a symbol of the repressive apparatus of the capitalist state in the age of imperialism.

The bourgeois media focus on our tactics rather than the domination and exploitation that proletarian, and oppressed people in the world face at the hands of U.S. imperialism, both at home and abroad. This focus results precisely from the fact that dominant ideology cannot assimilate the spectacle of proletarian students (largely drawn from oppressed nationalities), exercising their verbal power over the ex-General. Our refusal to submit to existing social relations is the only “crime” that is visible to this bourgeois media.

In order to defend our protest of September 17,  we only need turn to both videos capturing the the overt aggression initiated by the authorities along with the brutality that ensued, even when our comrades were down and not resisting. The evidence of police aggression is plain for all to see.

The Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee does not analyze these attacks as a sign of the strength for the CUNY administration and the repressive forces protecting Petraeus.

On the contrary, the intensity of the police violence only discloses the weakening position of the CUNY administration and the bourgeois state.

We condemn the police attacks and we are undeterred by them.


Paul Haeder's been a teacher, social worker, newspaperman, environmental activist, and marginalized muckraker, union organizer. Paul's book, Reimagining Sanity: Voices Beyond the Echo Chamber (2016), looks at 10 years (now going on 17 years) of his writing at Dissident Voice. Read his musings at LA Progressive. Read (purchase) his short story collection, Wide Open Eyes: Surfacing from Vietnam now out, published by Cirque Journal. Here's his Amazon page with more published work Amazon. Read other articles by Paul, or visit Paul's website.

2 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Lese Majeste said on October 9th, 2013 at 3:28am #

    Is CUNY chancellor William B. Kelly related to NYPD chief Ray Kelly?

  2. Paul Haeder said on October 9th, 2013 at 8:15am #

    Lese Majeste — Can’t find that right off, but does it matter? New York is like Florida — what a redneck state. Look at some of the comments on the Village Voice’s (another redneck Zionist rag) story. Here, for example:

    Comment #1 —


    A lifelong pacifist, I’ve discovered that David Petraeus is the most effective peacemaker I’ve ever known of.

    For sixty years, he has sprinted up America’s bureaucratic but-crack, grabbed that giant Pegasus by the reins, and said,

    “Can we think about this, folks? Let’s take a closer look at the neighbors. Maybe they’re not so bad after all. In fact, I’ll go myself.”

    And he did.

    Blessed are the peacemakers. God Bless Professor Petraeus.

    Comment #2

    There’s protesting, even loud somewhat obnoxious protesting, and there’s verbal harassment. The students, not surprisingly, went straight for the verbal harassment form of group behavior..

    And, of course, they realized there was safety in numbers.

    They also showed a remarkably naive belief in the power of video. Seems they believe that recording the police performing their duties in accordance with departmental regulations is the protesters’ idea of catching the cops violating someone’s civil rights.

    More likely than not, Ray Kelly will consider using this video for training purposes, showing recruits at the police academy how to handle protesters who want a physical altercation to occur.

    Comment #3 —

    Petraeus is walking through the streets of NYC, alone, without an entourage or bodyguards, and these knuckleheads are screaming at him like maniacs. He completely ignores them, because A) Comparing his intelligence to theirs would be like comparing a Princeton PhD (Oh, he is one.) to a turnip, and B) None of them will ever amount to as much as one of the pimples on his ass. Cursing at and hounding someone on the street is assault. That he has not tried to press charges against them shows that he is about 100 times the person that they are.