CUNY 5/3/2024 Video from Brutal Police Crackdown on 4/30 – Unified Statement of Support

Sign Statement of Support (see below) at this link.

Statement of Solidarity with the CUNY Gaza Solidarity Encampment & CUNY Community Members Subject to Brutal Police Violence, Arrest and Detention

Signer names and affiliations will be made public and updated periodically here:

Statement of Solidarity with the CUNY Gaza Solidarity Encampment & CUNY Community Members Subject to Brutal Police Violence, Arrest and Detention 

We, the undersigned, endorse this statement issued on May 3, 2024, by the CUNY Gaza Solidarity Encampment:


On Tuesday April 30, six days after it was established, the CUNY Gaza Solidarity Encampment (CGSE) was raided and dismantled by the NYPD.  The raid followed on from a state of emergency declaration issued by the City College President, Vincent Boudreau. In making this declaration without advance consultation with the student body president(s), the President violated CUNY Manual of General Policy 7.071. Such violation is magnified by the enormity of the decision. The president invited the NYPD to enter the campus and brutalize students, alumni, faculty, staff, as well as members of the broader CUNY community. The NYPD included the notoriously violent Special Response Group (SRG), dedicated to policing protest and counter-terrorism. Numerous injuries–including chemical burns, broken bones, concussions, bruises, and swelling–have been reported by protesters and individuals clearly identified as press. We heard reports that NYPD body cameras were turned off at crucial moments. Close to 200 people were arrested, with several held for over 36 hours, in violation of the law requiring detainees to be arraigned within 24 hours of arrest. Some of those arrested are facing trumped up felony charges of burglary, based on the lie that CUNY community members entering a CUNY administrative building constitutes a “break in”. Many students and workers also face the possibility of further retaliation from the administration.

Recent statements by the Chancellor and Mayor Eric Adams are a reminder of the broader political context in which this is unfolding – a resurgent McCarthyism in which  the student movement in particular is targeted for its principled political opposition to the genocide and successful organizing in solidarity with Palestinian resistance and liberation. This position is rooted in a rich tradition of anti-war activism and radical campus organizing in solidarity with all oppressed peoples. The violent raids we have seen across New York in recent days, including at Columbia, The New School and NYU and SUNY Purchase, as well as across the country show us that our administrations and government officials are more concerned with protecting the capitalist-imperialist interests that keep them in power than the safety and well-being of their students and workers.  These administrations are therefore illegitimate. Anyone concerned about the rise of fascism must speak out and take a stand in solidarity with the encampments.

We, the signatories of this petition, stand firmly with our brave and committed students, workers and CUNY community members who endured physical violence in the hands of the NYPD under the pretext of “public safety”.

* We demand the immediate resignation of the CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez and CCNY president Vincent Boudreau for authorizing the deployment of the NYPD against our students, faculty, staff and community members and subjecting them to brutal state violence and felony charges.

* We demand that the CUNY administration call for the immediate release of any remaining protesters arrested in connection with the encampment and the withdrawal of all charges against them.

* We demand that the CUNY administration state and confirm that they refuse to participate in the prosecution of protestors. 

Had the CUNY administration truly cared about their students and protecting free speech on campus they would not have invited the brutal militarized police assault in the first place and would certainly not be invested in extending the punitive consequences beyond the brutality and trauma already inflicted on people. We categorically reject the administration’s claim that their hands are tied when it comes to prosecution.

* We also demand a public acknowledgement of and apology for the police brutality and compensation for all those who endured it. The CUNY Gaza Solidarity Encampment observed uniformed CCNY maintenance staff carrying out orders to clear the encampment overnight and early Wednesday following the raid. We have been told that staff threw everything into dumpsters without regard for personal items and without doing any inventory or assessment. We demand compensation for all of our collective and personal property that was removed from the camp.

Inspired by the student-led movement of the 1960s -including the 1969 CUNY student protest movement, when more than 200 Black and Puerto Rican students de-occupied campus buildings at CCNY and shut down the campus for 17 days – hundreds of CUNY students and workers established an encampment at City College of New York’s Harlem campus on the morning of April 25th. Students announced via a press statement that they would remain encamped until the CUNY administration met their demands for divestment, boycott, demilitarization of the campus and solidarity with Palestinian liberation. Students have linked these demands to a vision of a tuition-free, open admissions, people’s CUNY, as well as an end to retaliation against CUNY students and workers speaking out against the zionist entity’s genocide of the Palestinian people.

Despite the CUNY administration’s claims to the contrary, for the 6 days of its duration, the CGSE was a peaceful, liberated and liberating zone. CUNY community members from all generations, including students, elders and many children, came together in the encampment to collectively plan for a world free of oppression. Encampment activities included daily people’s assemblies, live music, art builds, poetry readings, children’s craft workshops and political education on topics ranging from the history of the Puerto Rican and Black liberation struggles to the Filipino people’s movement against fascist state repression and US imperialism, the history of the Palestinian liberation movement, COINTELPRO and more. The students established a food pantry open to all Harlem community members, a medical tent, and a peoples’ library named after Refaat Alareer, the prominent Palestinian professor and writer who was martyred by zionist forces in Gaza last December. Local small businesses contributed to student efforts by donating hot meals multiple times a day. Although the ultimate aim of the encampment was to press the administration to adopt the Five Demands, along the way, a beautiful community based on collective care, solidarity, and shared anti-colonial, anti-racist, and anti-imperialist principles was constructed. In fact, it was precisely the beauty and strength of this community that posed a challenge to the power-brokers of the neoliberal university, and made its repression inevitable.

The CUNY administration predictably deployed the scripted strategy of accusing members of our community of being “outside agitators.” However, encampment members have repeatedly pointed out that the CUNY community extends beyond our students and workers to encompass CUNY alumni as well as the broader communities in which our university is embedded.  These are communities that our university has contributed to displacing and criminalizing through colonial gentrification and racist policing, yet these are the communities to which CCNY, as a public institution, should be accountable. Indeed, these are the communities that CCNY should represent. Organizers maintain that the real outside agitator is our administration, beholden as it is to the zionist-imperialist ruling class rather than the students and workers who actually make up the university. Where we see working class power and solidarity they see only threats. And in fact, they are correct to see this movement as a threat because it is a threat – to their venal interests and fascist power.

In response to the gaslighting, lies and diversionary tactics of the administration, and inspired by the bold moves of their 1960s counterparts, a group of students within the encampment courageously attempted to de-occupy a CCNY administrative building. Similar to the motivations driving the 1969 de-occupation, these students took actions that they knew could result in serious legal consequences  because they believed strongly  in their aim of fighting for justice for the Palestinian people and for all people facing oppression due to US imperialism, settler colonialism, capitalism and white supremacy.

The following is a summary of our collective experiences and observations of the day of the raid. On Tuesday, April 30, at 1:24 pm, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Dr. Denise B. Maybank sent an email to our negotiations team demanding that people leave the encampment, threatening to use “all legal, disciplinary and operational measures at our disposal” if it wasn’t cleared by the morning of Wednesday, May 1. At 5:30 p.m., members of our camp assembled to assess the situation and make a collective decision about whether to stay or disperse. We collectively decided to stay firm and hold our ground despite the risk of police violence and probable arrests. Even though the threatening tone in this message was a jarring departure from the tone of the negotiations so far, we did not expect that President Boudreau would unleash such violence in response to our decision to remain unmoved in our protest against our university’s complicity in genocide. The encampment was a strategy to force CUNY to pay attention to and comply with our demands, given that it had steadfastly refused to acknowledge any other form of communication – including protesting – that we had attempted to have with administration across CUNY since October 7 (and indeed for far longer than that), and in fact had responded to every attempt with repression. Remaining in place was therefore crucial because it was the only leverage we had. To refuse to abandon the camp was a political decision, made by a group of principled people. In making this decision we were inspired by the incredible steadfastness of the Palestinian people, who face far greater violence than we did in that moment and yet who have, for over 75 years, refused to concede anything to that violence and to its agent.

At around 5 p.m., NYPD closed off fences erected at the North and South entrance to the CCNY campus, cutting students at the encampment off from the outside world and producing a feeling of imminent danger. Students began their de-occupation of the building following the fencing of the entrances. CUNY public safety responded by rushing and pepper-spraying them and anyone who tried to protect them. One student had a panic attack after being maced and needed immediate medical attention. The NYPD entered the campus around this time and stood at the 140th and Convent Avenue entrance apparently to ensure that protesters on the outside of the fence did not get in. We reject the claim that there was violence against any officer from a member of the encampment or a supporter since their injuries were a consequence of their own pepper spray. This patently absurd accusation should give people a window into how to read any communique regarding Tuesday night’s events or the events leading up to it from the administration and the NYPD.The NYPD did not care about the fact that there were children in the encampment when they decided to escalate their violence. These children and their families experienced extreme distress but you will not hear any acknowledgment of this from either the CUNY administration or the NYPD. In one case, a family with two children in their stroller were not allowed to leave campus due to all the entrances being blocked off by the police. It was only after the family continued to plead and protestors chanted “let them leave” that police eventually opened the gates.

This horrifying scene was followed by a few hours of eerie calm. Those of us inside the encampment expected the worst. In these hours, our medics took care of the wounded; we ate maqlouba and chanted. Our spirits remained high even as we mentally and otherwise prepared for an imminent raid as the numbers of police surrounding the campus steadily grew – we distributed masks and goggles in order to protect our people from impending police violence.

Around 11pm, the police raided the encampment – minutes after a phone call with a CUNY faculty member present at the encampment who pleaded with Vice Chancellor Maybank to call off the raid and protect the students. Insidiously, the police blocked off adjacent streets so that the public could not see what was taking place on the campus. Those of us who were inside linked arms and chanted in solidarity with Palestine liberation as hundreds of cops swarmed the encampment. Several protesters were thrown to the ground and beaten, with almost everyone in the encampment arrested. The NYPD kettled protestors on sidewalks and then pushed them back with batons pressed against their necks and chests when they had nowhere to go, choking people despite a 2020 case recently signed that outlawed NYPD kettling in response to human rights violations committed on the part of the SRG.

Those arrested were subjected to inhumane conditions at the jail – they waited in long lines for several hours in the cold and rain while in zip ties, were denied water, chairs, and warm clothes as well as access to bathrooms. There was at least one incident in jail where a Muslim woman’s hijab was taken off amidst outrage and protest from fellow detainees – once again despite past cases that were settled by the NYPD for removal of women’s hijabs . At least one detained protester was denied medical attention and passed out on the floor. Several detained protesters complained of zip ties that were tied too tightly around their wrists, cutting off circulation and leading to bruising and swelling. One detained protester with a serious shoulder injury who was suffering acute pain begged to have her zip ties loosened but was ignored. This treatment is of course not unique to those detained for their participation in the encampment and de-occupation but reflective of the broader inhumanity of our racist carceral system.

We declare ‘Enough is Enough’! We will not sit by idly as the forces of fascism invade our campuses and turn them into something unrecognizable to the majority of CUNY community members who are committed to principles of justice and equality.  We demand our university lives up to its claims to be the “people’s university”. A people’s university must stand in solidarity with all oppressed peoples, from the working class communities within which it is embedded to  Palestinians resisting the ongoing imperialist-zionist genocide. We proudly stand in solidarity with the members of our community who organized and participated in the Gaza Solidarity Encampment. To all the brave CUNY students who are approaching finals season, graduation and the end of the semester we say: This is not over! Summer brings a wonderful opportunity for us to continue the struggle for the Five Demands on and off campus. Encampments can be swept, but resolves cannot be broken. We will come back again and again until the demands are met. CUNY must meet our Five Demands.

Disclose, Divest! We will not stop, we will not rest!

Previous report: Join the CUNY Gaza Solidarity Encampment!

→ To get involved, follow the CUNY Gaza Solidarity Encampment on Instagram and Telegram!  

April 28, 2024
In the course of a week, what seemed impossible has become inevitable, thanks to a powerful student-led movement. Last week students at Columbia set up the Gaza Solidarity Encampment to demand that their university divest from a zionist settler-colonization that has deliberately slaughtered over 40,000 Palestinians and is committing new massacres daily, starving and displacing millions, and threatening further assaults on those displaced in Rafah.

A week later, these university divestment encampments have spread in a viral wave across New York City, the country, and the world. Some university administrations have responded to protests by unleashing police violence and arresting students and faculty, but that only strengthens the movement’s resolve. When the zionist state has destroyed all the universities in Gaza, how can we allow our own universities to operate normally?

On the morning of Thursday, April 25, the CUNY Gaza Solidarity Encampment launched at City College of New York in Harlem. As the encampment enters its fourth day, students from across the CUNY system have been joined by faculty, staff, and community supporters demanding divestment and standing firm for Palestine liberation with chants of “Free, Free Palestine!” and “Disclose! Divest! We will not stop, we will not rest!”

We are declaring that there will be no business as usual until CUNY divests. Attempts by CUNY public safety to repress protesters were met with resistance. Following the successful expulsion of the violent security officers, protesters spontaneously erupted into the chant: “The people united will never be defeated!”

Echoing the five demands for racial justice raised by Black and Puerto Rican students at CCNY during the 1969 student takeover, we have presented the CUNY administration with five demands for Palestine liberation:

  1. Divest! Immediately divest from ALL companies complicit in the imperialist-zionist genocide, including weapons, tech and surveillance, and construction companies. Commit to full financial transparency regarding CUNY’s institutional investments. 
  2. Boycott! Ban all academic trips to the Zionist state, encompassing birthright, Fulbright, and perspective trips. Cancel all forms of cooperation with Israeli academic institutions, including events, activities, agreements, and research collaborations.
  3. Solidarity! Release a statement affirming the right of the Palestinian people to national liberation and the right of return. Protect CUNY students and workers who are attacked for speaking out against the genocide in Gaza and in solidarity with Palestinian liberation. Reinstate professors who have been fired for showing solidarity with Palestine. 
  4. Demilitarize! Demilitarize CUNY, Demilitarize Harlem! Get IOF and NYPD officers off all CUNY campuses, and end all collaboration, trainings and recruitment by imperialist institutions, including the CIA, Homeland Security and ROTC. Remove all symbols of US imperialism from our campuses: Rename the Colin Powell School of Global and Civic Leadership at CCNY and reinstate The Guillermo Morales and Assata Shakur Community and Student Center!
  5. A People’s CUNY! We demand a fully-funded, free CUNY that is not beholden to zionist and imperialist private donors! Restore CUNY’s tuition-free status, protect the union, and adopt a fair contract for staff and faculty.

These demands were sent to the administration as soon as the camp launched. On Friday, CUNY administration officials met with the encampment’s negotiations team. As explained in the encampment’s Telegram channel:

We entered the meeting today in good faith and were met with dismissal, lies, deflection, and outright gaslighting. They spent an hour of a two-hour meeting over the issue of a Palestinian flag, offering us portable toilets as a bargaining chip to take it down. Given the symbolic importance of the flag to the Palestinian national struggle, we find this trade off to be deeply offensive. This is an insult to the sentiments of a colonized people.

They told us they don’t have the time for a second meeting, demonstrating their complete disregard for our demands despite the urgency of the ongoing genocide in Gaza. Instead, on the first day of the encampment, CUNY Public Safety kidnapped a teenager and charged her with a FELONY for allegedly spray painting the floor! Our legal team is currently supporting our student against this arbitrary charge.

Every hour they delay is more lives lost! We are not willing to wait for a convenient time for the administration and will impose our own deadline. We are demanding Chancellor Matos Rodriguez come to the encampment on Monday by 2 PM to meet with our negotiating team and discuss the implementation of our demands. 

They are not taking us seriously so we are going to show them how serious we are!

The next morning, CUNY dropped off portable toilets at the encampment, while the flag remains in place. The CUNY administration is powerless in the face of such fierce determination. When we stand firm and united, we prevail!
Now more than ever,  the movement for a liberated Palestine needs your solidarity and commitment.  Your physical presence matters! Join the encampment! The CCNY encampment is one of the few encampments in NYC that remains open to the public. Let’s keep up the pressure! 
For updates, follow the CUNY Gaza Solidarity Encampment on:

In solidarity for a free Palestine,


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