National / News / April 29, 2009

New School occupation

On the morning of April 10, a handful of students led an occupation at the New School in New York City. The occupation took place in a university building at 65 5th Avenue. Rising in number throughout the day, there were 60 or possibly more students in the building by the end of the occupation. The occupation began Friday morning and was reportedly over by noon, ending with the arrests of 22 students.

The cause of the occupation was student dissatisfaction with New School’s university president, Joseph Robert Kerrey, and their vice president, James Murtha. An occupation held by students of the school in December 2008 was also a call for administrative change. The December occupation lasted only 30 hours and resulted in an agreement between the students and Kerrey, who agreed to give students more say in the actions of the school and its investments.

Because the students saw nothing come of this agreement, they decided to protest again. At one point during the protest, six of the students involved stood on the roof of the building they occupied, dressed in black and waving a flag for solidarity, reading a list of their demands through a megaphone. Down below on the sidewalk, the police blocked off the perimeter of the building to prevent people from walking or driving near it.

The occupation ended by noon with police entering the building and some arrests being made on the street. Some sources, such as the administration of the New School, deny that any violence was used in the arrests, but sources such as and cite the use of tear gas and pepper spray on nearly all the students involved.

In a video on the website, police ran people down on the street outside the building as the occupation is ending. In one particular video, the officers formed a barricade on the sidewalk and one person on the sidewalk who appeared to be a student said to the police, “Shame on you.” In response, a police officer tackled him.

This occupation took place in the same building as the December 17 occupation. Kerrey was reportedly the one who told the police to break up the protest.

Annie Zak

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