Tuesday, April 3, 2007

News: 20 Students Arrested in Anti-War Protest

New School Students Protest Military Recruitment

Sam Lewis
About fifty students held a campus walkout on March 12th to commemorate four years of war in Iraq, then staged a sit-in at a military recruitment center.

By Hannah Rappleye & Peter Holslin

Twenty members of Students for a Democratic Society at The New School and Pace University were hauled to jail in police trucks on March 12 after besieging a military recruitment center on Chambers Street, blockading the door, and refusing to leave.

The protest stemmed from an SDS-sponsored “Campus Walkout” at The New School, which marked the fourth anniversary of the Iraq War. About 50 New School students gathered in front of the New School building on 65 5th Avenue at 10:30 a.m. to protest. Students waved signs
and chanted, passed around a bullhorn and made speeches denouncing the war on the steps of the building.

“We as the New School can say we don’t want this war anymore,” shouted Lang junior and SDS member Lucas Hartstone-Rose. He said U.S. citizens must pressure Congress to use the “power of the purse-string” to cease funding the war.

Sam Lewis
SDS Members inside Chambers St. recruiting center.

After half an hour, students announced they would invade a recruiting center and headed down 5th Avenue, through Washington Square Park and into Chinatown. Lang freshman Kyle Jacques played drums on a garbage can as the group chanted, "It's bullshit, get off it, this war is for profit!"

Minutes before reaching the recruitment center, New School students met a group of SDS members from Pace University. The two groups merged and rushed through the doors of the recruitment center. About 100 students remained outside, shouting anti-war slogans and songs.

As military recruiters slammed and locked their doors inside the center, students gathered “Go Army” recruitment pamphlets and threw them onto the street, then dragged a large pamphlet rack over to the entrance of the center.

Once the door was blocked, the students sat down in the narrow hallway, locked arms and announced they would not leave until the war was over.

Soon, 40 New York police officers arrived at the scene. Officers kicked in the flyer display the students had set up and sealed all entrances to the office. They deliberated for around 40 minutes while the students remained inside.

After the standoff, a marine in fatigues entered the office and said that any students who left voluntarily would not be arrested. One protestor who had just arrived from Florida and an Inprint reporter left.

Police videotaped the event and a plainclothes officer took photographs of the students. Most of the students turned their heads or covered their faces with posters while being photographed.

When asked why police were videotaping the protest, Sergeant Ceccarelli, an NYPD officer who declined to give his first name, said “There is no way in hell I’m going to tell you that.”

NYPD officials declined to comment.

The students were searched and photographed before being put into two police trucks and transported to the detention facility at 100 Centre Street in Manhattan. They were held for about 25 hours and charged with 3rd degree criminal trespassing. Their sentencing date is May 23.

SDS members said they are satisfied with the outcome of the protest.

“I would do it again,” said Lang sophomore Diane Taha.

Matt Bathlei, a junior at Lang who is not an SDS member, wasn't planning on attending the event because he was not sure if he agreed with supporting an immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq. "I'm strongly against the war," he said, but added that "Iraq will just descend into more turmoil” if the United States withdraws troops.

However, Bathlei decided to attend because he wanted to show solidarity with SDS.

"The student body does have a position on the war," he said. "Some action needs to be taken."

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