A Response to Bob Kerrey’s “Note to the Community”

April 10, 2009

Today we witnessed undoubtedly the greatest disgrace in the history of the New School. Students practicing civil disobedience in occupying a mostly vacant school building have been pepper-sprayed, teargassed, beaten, and then arrested. Bob Kerrey is attempting to shift the blame for this absurdly excessive use of violence on the NYPD, which is not entirely false. 100 of cops, at least 1 helicopter, dozens of barricades, violence against supporters, and the violent arrest of the students is the result of NYPD brutality. However, Bob Kerrey also deserves the blame for turning the police loose on the peaceful occupation and working with them every step of the way as violence continued. He further tries to justify this in the most desperate, pathetic, manner imaginable: rewriting the history of the December occupation and fabricating an incidence of violence on the part of students against a security guard.

Let’s look at his false account of the December occupation. He claims that he did not file a police complaint and implies the students were acting in a civil negotiation, thus he negotiated. In truth, Bob Kerrey released a statement during the December occupation that he was working with Police Chief Ray Kelly as a result of a student assaulting a security officer.

History repeats itself as Kerrey returns to the same lie to justify the violence that resulted from treatment of the situation this morning. The assault and “injury” of a security guard is a fabrication. Students inside and outside were communicating with each other throughout the morning and no one witnessed or reported any physical altercation with security personnel. In fact, there was no talk about this whatsoever until Kerrey released his statement during the aftermath of the gassing and arrests at 65 5th Avenue. No mention of this, despite an open dialogue between supporters and New School Security. If there is truth to this allegation, President Kerrey, we demand proof!

The rest of the letter continues with Kerrey’s typical lip service towards a respect “civic engagement.” This comes after months of attempting to expell and threatening to arrest students who were organizing against him. Of course he turns to the illegal “paper caper” and “bye bob” incidents (involving a total of 4 students!) to divert our attention from the violence we have just witnessed.

Bob Kerrey, there is no excuse for excessive of your response to the occupation this morning. Your actions were witnessed by the Free Press, the New York Times, New York 1, Washington Square News, and many other news organizations. The truth is going to get out to the community despite your pre-emptive lies.

UPDATE: We have just spoken with several security guards at New School, and they have shed some light on President Kerrey’s claim that a security official was injured. Indeed there was a brief altercation with a “supervisor,” possibly a maintainence supervisor, who tried to open one of the doors and had it accidentally closed on his leg. The man in question was not hospitalized and did not sustain injury. Any harm done to him could in no way be construed as intentional.

2 Responses to “A Response to Bob Kerrey’s “Note to the Community””

  1. […] pm: The occupation’s blog has put up a response to the statement Bob Kerrey distributed earlier. A post at the New School In Exile website says […]

  2. ACT-UAW Statement Regarding the April 10, 2009 Student Occupation of the New School

    The part-time faculty union, ACT-UAW Local 7902 of the New School and NYU, is gravely concerned with the Kerrey administration’s harsh response to the New School students who recently occupied 65 Fifth Avenue, including a massive show of police force.

    President Kerrey’s statement about the protest focused only on allegations of student misconduct, ignoring the serious issues raised by the protesters.

    We call on the administration to immediately revoke the suspensions of students pending a full investigation of all allegations.

    The question should be asked why student dissatisfaction with the administration needs to be expressed in the occupation of a university building. In our view, this protest is symptomatic of the administration’s failure to foster a healthy and democratic educational community at the New School.

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