Workers Vanguard No. 1040
21 February 2014
Defend the CUNY Protesters!
Drop All Charges!
(Young Spartacus pages)
We print below a speech given by Spartacus Youth Club spokesman Mika at the January 9 press conference outside the Manhattan courthouse following the hearings of the CUNY 6, Tafadar Sourov and Khalil Vasquez.
On 17 September 2013, after being brutally attacked by the police, the CUNY 6 (Agustin Castro, Jose Disla, Denise Ford, Angelica Hernandez, Luis Henriquez and Rafael Peña) were arrested for protesting CUNY’s appointment of war criminal and ex-CIA head General David Petraeus as a visiting professor outside City University of New York (CUNY) Macaulay Honors College. The six face trumped-up charges including “riot in the second degree” (see “Defend Anti-Petraeus Protesters!” WV No. 1031, 4 October 2013).
In an effort to suppress leftist political activity, the City College of New York (CCNY) administration suspended students Tafadar (“Taffy”) Sourov and Khalil Vasquez, both of the Maoist Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee, following a 24 October 2013 protest against the shutting down of the Morales/Shakur Center on campus (see “Reinstate the Morales/Shakur Center! Cops Off Campus!” WV No. 1034, 15 November 2013). After a November 22 disciplinary hearing, the CCNY administration allowed them both to return to CCNY this spring semester, but their suspension will only be expunged from their record if they don’t get into “further disciplinary trouble.” Ominously, the CUNY administration brought criminal charges of “rioting” and “inciting to riot” against Sourov and Vasquez for exercising their right to free speech and assembly while protesting the closure of the Morales/Shakur Center.
Despite our differing political outlooks, the Spartacus Youth Club has stood with the CUNY 6, Sourov and Vasquez against these outrageous charges from the beginning. The next court hearing for the CUNY 6 is scheduled for February 18 and the hearing for Sourov and Vasquez is set for March 11, both at the New York Criminal Court, 100 Centre Street. We urge our readers to send letters demanding that all charges against the CUNY protesters be dropped. Statements can be directed to: New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., One Hogan Place, New York, NY 10013; telephone (212) 335-9000; fax (212) 335-4390. Donations to the CUNY protesters’ legal defense fund can be made at defendthecuny6.wordpress.com.
* * *
The Spartacus Youth Club stands for the defense of the CUNY 6, Taffy and Khalil in the face of the D.A.’s and CCNY administration’s witchhunt. As revolutionary Trotskyists we are firmly committed to the defense of the left and working-class movement against any attack by the bourgeoisie and their state. It is crucial that students, faculty and workers protest this latest outrage and demand that all the bogus charges be dropped! An injury to one is an injury to all!
The arrests of the CUNY 6 and the charges against Taffy and Khalil are blatant acts of retaliation for protesting against ROTC and war criminal Petraeus at CUNY, as well as organizing against the shutting down of the Morales/Shakur Center. We call for ROTC and all military recruiters off campus! Reinstate the Morales/Shakur Center! Cops off campus!
The new draconian policy on “expressive activity” being proposed by the CUNY Board of Trustees is another attempt to enhance the powers of the administration to crack down on protest, part of a drive to make the university more exclusive. We say abolish the administration! For worker-student-teacher control of the universities! Fight for free, quality, integrated education with a full stipend for all students and for open admissions!
The events of last semester show once again the danger of having illusions in the CUNY administration. Universities under capitalism serve the purpose of upholding bourgeois ideology and training the next layer of technicians and managers. CUNY cannot become a “liberated” or “sovereign” space divorced from the rest of society. In order to remove the universities from the control of the bourgeoisie, we need a socialist revolution to sweep away the whole capitalist system. Students can be a catalyst for broader protest in society but by themselves they do not have the social power to overthrow capitalism. They must ally with the multiracial working class.
Efforts by the ruling class to crack down on the left and stifle protest must be expected as long as capitalism exists. Democrat Obama, Commander-in-Chief of U.S. imperialism, has surpassed his predecessor Bush when it comes to invading privacy, shredding basic democratic rights and enhancing police powers. Workers must be broken from the Democratic Party, especially its more left-talking elements like de Blasio and Charles Barron, and won to the task of building their own class party, independent of and in opposition to all parties of capitalist rule. A class-struggle workers party would fight in defense of all the exploited, oppressed and dispossessed. We need a workers government that expropriates the capitalists and rebuilds society on the basis of a worldwide planned, collectivized economy. We take as our model the Russian Revolution of 1917 when the Bolshevik Party of Lenin and Trotsky led the working class to take power and overthrow capitalism.
Once again, defend the CUNY 6, Taffy and Khalil! Drop all the charges now!