Workers Vanguard No. 1031

4 October 2013


Defend Anti-Petraeus Protesters!

New York City

(Young Spartacus pages)

On September 17, the cops brutally attacked a demonstration at the City University of New York (CUNY) against the appointment of war criminal David Petraeus as visiting professor. Six black and Latino protesters were arrested, detained overnight, and slapped with a range of trumped-up charges including “riot.” The delegate assembly of the Professional Staff Congress, a union representing CUNY faculty and staff, passed a September 19 resolution denouncing the cop repression and calling for the charges against the protesters to be dropped. Students, faculty and campus workers must defend the CUNY 6, and all those who oppose the crimes of U.S. imperialism, against bourgeois state repression. Drop all charges against the CUNY 6!

The demonstration, called by the Ad Hoc Committee Against the Militarization of CUNY, was held outside a fund-raiser attended by the former CIA director General Petraeus at CUNY’s Macaulay Honors College. Videos filmed on the scene show an NYPD supervisor grabbing a protester and slamming him into a parked car as two other officers pile on top and other cops swarm the street, chasing protesters. Another video shows police holding down and repeatedly kidney punching another protester.

The media has gone on a violence-baiting smear campaign against the CUNY protesters and in defense of this war criminal. In an ominous statement released on September 20, CUNY’s interim chancellor William P. Kelly issued a thinly veiled endorsement of the police repression and an implicit threat against the protesters, vowing to put a stop to so-called “obstruction” and “harassment” of Petraeus. CUNY: Hands off faculty and student protesters! No reprisals!

Outrageously, the press and CUNY administration have invoked the notion that Petraeus’s right to free speech as a professor has been violated. But this is not a question of “academic freedom” for some bourgeois ideologue. We want students, teachers and workers to drive Petraeus off campus through protest and exposure—not for his political views, but for his deeds in overseeing torture and mass murder in Iraq, Afghanistan, Latin America and elsewhere. We are also in favor of protests aimed at shutting down the Reserve Officers Training Corps (see “ROTC Off Campus!” WV No. 1029, 6 September).

While the Spartacus Youth Club defends these protesters, we also maintain our criticisms of the politics of the Ad Hoc Committee, as expressed in our press and at the multiple CUNY protests in which we have participated. This group, led by the fake-Trotskyist Internationalist Group (IG) and the Maoist Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee (RSCC), is an opportunist bloc that does not mention—let alone oppose—the current ruling party of imperialist war, namely the Democrats, in any of its published statements. While the RSCC claims to be anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist, it offers no opposition to the Democratic Party anywhere in its Points of Unity, Platform or published articles. The IG is only too happy to ditch its paper opposition to the Democrats for the sake of joint statements of unity with liberals and reformists.

For Marxists, the starting point for a program to defeat U.S. imperialism is opposition to the capitalist ruling class and its parties. As a speaker for the SYC stated in his speech during the Ad Hoc Committee’s September 3 protest, “The Democrats are simply the other party of racism and war. We say break with the Democrats! No support to Obama. We need a workers party that fights for socialist revolution!”

The next court hearing is scheduled for October 17 at the New York Criminal Court, 100 Centre Street, time to be announced. Protest letters can be sent to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., One Hogan Place, New York, NY 10013. We reprint below the SYC’s September 21 protest letter to the Manhattan D.A. We note that the last name of one of the arrested protesters, Rafael Peña, was misspelled in the court record and thus also in our protest letter.

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The New York Spartacus Youth Club (SYC) denounces the police assault on those protesting ex-CIA head General David Petraeus outside CUNY Macaulay Honors College on September 17th. Six protesters, Jose Disla, Denise Ford, Rafael Pena, Luis Henriquez, Agustin Castro and Angelica Hernandez, were arrested. We demand that all charges be dropped immediately!

During the protest, the NYPD viciously punched and slammed protesters to the pavement. One was held down by officers and repeatedly pummeled.

The context for this police attack was several recent protests against Petraeus teaching at Macaulay Honors College and against the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) returning to CUNY campuses. For voicing their opposition, the six protesters face trumped up charges, including riot in the second degree, obstruction of governmental administration and resisting arrest, among others. The SYC stands in solidarity with the CUNY 6. We demand that all charges be dropped!