Breaking News: Police Begin Raids on NYU

From Students for a Democratic Society:


Spread far and wide and come to Washington Square immediately. After offering to begin good faith negotiations, NYU has arrested and suspended the student negotiator team and initiated a police raid of the occupied space. This follows police pepper spraying and arresting supporters overnight, and NYU shutting off restroom access, internet, and power this morning.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Friday, Feb. 20, 2009

Contacts: Inside the Occupation: Emily Stainkamp, (336) 207-8318Farah Khimji, (214) 277-3879 | Outside the Occupation: Legba Carrefour, (703) 354-2044 | Emma Gordon, (518) 221-5787 |

NYU Students Shut Down Building In Protest; Administration shuts off internet, power, restroom access, refuses to negotiate and initiates police raid. New York: A student occupation of an NYU building stretched into its third day as the demonstration shut down the entirety of the Kimmel Center on Washington Square. Police clashed with supporters outside overnight and the NYU administration refused to negotiate with protesters, instead turning off internet and power, cutting off restroom access and sending police to raid the space, arresting and assaulting students.

Seventy students from campus group Take Back NYU! continued to barricade themselves inside a third-floor cafeteria of the Kimmel Center in a protest that began Wednesday evening. Demanding affordable education, student power in university operations, protections for campus workers, including unions for graduate students and adjuncts, as well as amnesty for their actions, students sought to meet with administration but have so far been rebuffed. After the admnistration asked to meet and discuss with students in good faith, a student negotiation team of five people was seized and suspended and police began a raid of the space.

Students report that internet and power was cut off this morning, making communications with press difficult. Students began defacating in buckets of kitty litter after losing access to restrooms. Outside, supporters, who came from all over the East Coast, swelled into the hundreds overnight, with crowds chanting “Whose School? Our School!” into the early morning. Police briefly clashed with protesters, pepper spraying the crowd and arresting one youth grabbed at the edge of the rally. The occupation was identified by participants and supporters as part of a growing student power movement that was sweeping the United States and Europe, with university occupations at the New School in the Fall semester and the University of Rochester two weeks ago.

“We’re still reaching out to the administration to negotiate, but they’ve responded with force, attempts to stop press from speaking with us, making us pee in buckets, and even arresting us,” said Farah Khimji, a second year student. “This isn’t how you educate youth to build a better world, so we plan on doing it ourselves.”

The group has asked for press and supporters to rally outside the building.


Take Back NYU! members inside the occupation are rapidly losing access to the outside world. If press is unable to contact them, please contact the outside spokespersons for comment.

People in this conversation

  • Guest - zerohour

    Quick update:

    The occupation is over. Everyone is out of the building. Every NYU student who didn’t leave the building by 1AM is facing suspension.

  • Guest - nando

    Great timely updated! keep us posted -- on the threats against students, and also more summation of the action.

    One thiing that particularly interests me (for obvious reasons) is the powerful statement they made by putting Gaza so central to their action. For obvious reasons this is very controversial and important in New York City where Zionist forces are powerful and organized (including among sections of the people).

    Can anyone give links (or reports) about the debate over this? How students responded? the media? You talk about republicans, but not organized zionists making appearances?

  • Guest - zerohour

    I went to the support protests yesterday at 5PM and mMidnight and saw no visible signs of Zionist presence, organized or individual. However, a few of the discussions I did overhear were centered around Gaza and I participated in one such discussion.

    One student said he supported the other demands for financial transparency but couldn't support the demands around Gaza and argued that combining the two would work to the detriment to the struggle. Another student responded to him by saying that an important part of financial oversight is to make sure the university is not using students' money to support Israeli occupation, or any other unjust cause. After that the discussion became more focused on the politics of Israel itself. Ultimately, the Israel supporter had to leave but it was a good debate with a minimum of rancor I thought.

    What was notable about the campus Republicans was that they did not focus on the politics but rather on the more narrow issue of re-taking the Kimmel Center.

    I have not gone through the various media reports yet.

    Does anyone else have experiences they'd like to share?

  • Guest - um

    The NYU campus republicans are noteworthy for their "immigrant hunt" that got shut down last year by scores of other students who showed up to identify themselves as "illegal aliens".

  • Guest - Eddy Laing

    Date: February 23, 2009 10:04:53 AM EST
    To: "Gender-Studies"
    Subject: Solidarity with Take Back NYU!

    Picket in Solidarity with Take Back in NYU

    Come out and support the Take Back NYU! students who recently occupied Kimmel in order to force the NYU administration to meet their demands. Their effots reflect a brave effort to pursue badly needed democratic reform at NYU. We condemn any and all efforts to retaliate against, punish, or sanction the students involved in the sit-in.

    Tuesday, February 24, 2009
    7:00pm - 9:00pm
    Outside of Kimmel Center
    60 Washington Square South
    New York, NY 10012

    As I'm sure you're aware, about eighty students began occupying the Marketplace in the Kimmel Center on Wednesday night. We intended to stay until the administration negotiated with us regarding our list of demands focusing on democracy, transparency, accountability, and human rights. The administration repeatedly refused to negotiate. On Thursday night, a rally outside the building drew as many as a thousand supporters, who took to the street in front of Kimmel, dancing and singing and chanting. Around noon the next day, administrators drew some of us out of the space under the guise of negotiation, and told those individuals they were suspended. Administrators and guards then stormed the room and served the NYU students with suspension letters. Eighteen students were suspended.


    1. HELP TRACK SOMEONE DOWN! Do you know the 18th NYU student who was suspended and who is not in contact with the rest of us? We're trying to track that person down so we can put them in touch with our defense team. If you have any ideas, let us know.

    2. COME OUT! Come to our rally/press conference Tuesday at 7pm, south side of Washington Square Park. We'll talk about what happened at out administrative meetings and a whole bunch of other stuff.

    3. MONEY! We have very friendly lawyers who have offered to help out temporarily. While they're okay with spending tons of time this weekend and over the next two days helping out with initial meetings, it would be really good if we could throw them some funds. Their work is really valuable and I think it's pretty necessary to help them out with some funds if we can.

    Can you organize a pay-for-a-plate dinner, a benefit show, a keg party, a dance-off, a bake sale, or some t-shirt-/button- making and selling? Are you totally loaded and looking to redistribute some wealth? (I say that jokingly). Get in touch if you can - you don't have to be ready to do something big, but if you know a band, can make really good vegan brownies (haha), or are a talented screen-printer, we'd love to know.

    4. HANDS! There is going to be a lot of grunt work involved for the legal battle - things as tiny as finding a list of deans' contact info, and as big as finding precedents to these types of disciplinary proceedings. If you'd be interested in helping out with this, please email Banu via beet AT riseup DOT net. Let me know what you are comfortable doing - research, compiling, telling Gideon that no, he can't talk about unicorns or dryads in an email to JSex, proofreading legalese, and so on.

    5. THIS FIGHT ISN'T OVER! We might be suspended for the moment, but NYU's actions have made even more clear the necessity for democracy, transparency, accountability, and respect for human rights. Have ideas? Want to be involved? Get in touch.

    Love and rage,
    Take Back NYU!
    takebacknyu AT gmail DOT com

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