Arrests Follow Building Takeover at New School

April 13, 2009

Students pushing for the resignation of Bob Kerrey as president of the New School took over a building Friday morning, and university officials responded by sending in the New York City police to retake the building. Nineteen people -- some but not all of them New School students -- were arrested when the police retook the building, and other students were also arrested. Students and many professors at the New School say that Kerrey has provided poor leadership for the institution. A building takeover in December ended after negotiations, with students vowing additional protests if Kerrey remained in office.

A statement from the university defended the need to call in the police. "[T]he university has allowed and accommodated every peaceful protest, teach-in, and demonstration. We have enforced our rules governing such events in such a way as to permit protests, so long as they don't endanger the safety of other members of the community or destruction of property," the statement said. But it continued by saying that the protesters on Friday were not being truthful. "Their claim that this was a simple political protest is false. Their entry into this building was forced, they removed a man who was cleaning the building, took his phone, injured a security officer, and did physical damage to the building. Accordingly, in this case the university asked the New York Police Department to remove and arrest those who were trespassing on our property. We suspended, pending administrative review, all New School students who were a part of this action. The New School prides itself on civic engagement. We have been and will continue to be a refuge for open and critical political debate. Students and faculty who choose to peacefully and passionately oppose the policies of the university will have their rights to do so protected as strongly as we protect our right to safely and securely operate our university."

Supporters of the protest held additional rallies Friday night.

New School in Exile, the protest group, posted videos of the protests and arrests on its Web site. The group said that Kerrey and police officers were lying about the way events transpired, and vowed to continue efforts to oust Kerrey.

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