Condemn Petraeus and Interim Chancellor Kelly! Uphold the CUNY 6 and the Campaign to End the Militarization of CUNY!

The interim CUNY chancellor William B. Kelly recently sent a letter  to the Board of Trustees regarding the September 17, 2013 demonstration against a fundraiser at Macaulay Honors College featuring “professor” David Petraeus and apologist for U.S. imperialism Fareed Zakaria.

The demonstration was organized by the Ad Hoc Committee Against the Militarization of CUNY, a united front in which the Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee (RSCC) is a leading participant.

While the interim chancellor’s letter mentions the demonstration, it consciously neglects to address the brutality that the NYPD used in arresting demonstrators. Instead the letter claims that “a few demonstrators resisted police efforts, and six arrests were made.” The letter continues: “The university takes every measure to ensure that Dr. Petraeus was able to teach and conduct scholarly activities, without harassment or obstruction.” Further, the institution “-will not tolerate disruption of the free exchange of ideas and the essential work of the university.” This is a mischaracterization of not only the events of September 17, but of the campaign as a whole.

First, there is no mention that the protest was both peaceful and legal. The CUNY 6 (many who are RSCC members) did nothing to justify the intense violence employed by the NYPD.

Second, we are demonstrating against Petraeus as a symptom of the militarization process, not as an individual, nor because of his so-called “ideas” that he propagates in his so-called “class.” We are not infringing on his ‘free-speech’, but we are contesting his function in the academy as a symbol of U.S. imperialism.

Third, the bourgeois media have characterized our September 9 action against Petraeus as “harassment.” Due to the role that the media plays in reproducing social relations, they are unable to grasp that we are engaged in a militant struggle against a symbol of the repressive apparatus of the capitalist state in the age of imperialism.

The bourgeois media focus on our tactics rather than the domination and exploitation that proletarian, and oppressed people in the world face at the hands of U.S. imperialism, both at home and abroad. This focus results precisely from the fact that dominant ideology cannot assimilate the spectacle of proletarian students (largely drawn from oppressed nationalities), exercising their verbal power over the ex-General. Our refusal to submit to existing social relations is the only “crime” that is visible to this bourgeois media.

In order to defend our protest of September 17,  we only need turn to both videos capturing the the overt aggression initiated by the authorities along with the brutality that ensued, even when our comrades were down and not resisting. The evidence of police aggression is plain for all to see.

The Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee does not analyze these attacks as a sign of the strength for the CUNY administration and the repressive forces protecting Petraeus.

On the contrary, the intensity of the police violence only discloses the weakening position of the CUNY administration and the bourgeois state.

We condemn the police attacks and we are undeterred by them.

Full CUNY 6


Press release: Unprovoked police attack against peaceful protest by CUNY students and faculty against ex-Gen. David Petraeus

Press release

Contact: Portia Seddon, 347-740-8834 or Tafadar Sourov, 646-331-1266

Ad Hoc Committee Against the Militarization of CUNY,

Unprovoked police attack against peaceful protest by CUNY students and faculty against ex-Gen. David Petraeus

NEW YORK, 17 September — Six students were arrested this evening in a brutal, unprovoked police attack against a peaceful protest by City University of New York students and faculty against CUNY’s appointment of former CIA chief ex-General David Petraeus. Students were punched, slammed against vehicles and against the pavement by police captains and officers, after the NYPD forced them off the pavement and into the street. The demonstration was called by the Ad Hoc Committee Against the Militarization of CUNY.

The arrested students are presently being held and are to be arraigned this Wednesday, September 18, at some point between 9:00 a.m. and the afternoon in the Arraignment Court in the Manhattan Criminal Court at 100 Centre Street. All defenders of students’ basic right to protest are urged to come to the arraignment and show their support.

“As students were chanting ‘War Criminal Petraeus Out of CUNY Now,’ I was shocked to see several police officers grab and brutalize one of the demonstrators,” said City College student Yexenia Vanegas. “This was completely unprovoked, as demonstrators made clear that they were there to defend our university in a peaceful protest.” The attack occured in front of CUNY’s Macaulay Honors College, where Petraeus has been appointed to teach a class on public policy. “Protestors were marching in a circle on the sidewalk and chanting, but the police forced them into the street and then charged. One of the most brutal things I saw was that five police officers slammed a Queens College student face down to the pavement across the street from Macaulay, put their knees on his back and he was then repeatedly kneed in the back,” said Hunter student Michael Brian. The student was one of those pointed out by “white shirt” officers, then seized and brutalized. A Latina woman student was heaved through the air and slammed to the ground.

A broad range of CUNY students, faculty and staff members, have been carrying out a campaign of “protest and exposure” against the Board of Trustees’ appointment of Petraeus, whose documented actions as Iraq/Afghanistan war commander and CIA chief include drone attacks upon civilians, and the creation of torture centers and death squads. When Petraeus was setting up Special Police Commandos, the “dirty tactics” that were used included the use of white phosphorus, a chemical weapon, against the population in Fallujah. “Petraeus’ man” Col. James Steele, who organized death squads in Central America, had been brought to the area for the same purpose.

With the NYPD being sent to brutalize and arrest CUNY students on behalf of a certified war criminal, organizers state that this blatant use of police brutality against peaceful protestors wil not intimidate or deter those who expose the truth about the actions of David “Death Squad” Petraeus and oppose attempts to turn the City University into “a war college.”


FREE the CUNY 6! Lock Up the War Criminals!

The Ad Hoc Committee Against the Militarization of CUNY was peacefully protesting a fundraiser that David Petraeus and Fareed Zakaria were speaking at yesterday evening at 6:30pm. Six students—some who were RSCC members—were arrested despite it being a peaceful protest. The Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee would greatly appreciate it if people in NYC could come out at 9am tomorrow at 100 Centre Street, when our comrades see the judge, to show solidarity for the CUNY 6!

Pack the courts!

Free the CUNY 6 Now!

We will never stop struggling!

100 Centre Street New York, NY 10013
9:00 a.m.

A RSCC Member’s Opinion on the Militarization of CUNY

Recently CUNY has hired former General and CIA director, David Petraeus. He is to teach this semester at the Macaulay Honors College. In addition to Petraeus’ hiring some campuses are reintroducing Reserve on the Call (ROTC) programs. These recent additions, along with many other measures have indicated a steady trend toward the militarization of the CUNY institution. The USA is the world’s foremost imperialist superpower with close to 761 known military bases worldwide. This militarization of CUNY is at the benefit of the ruling capitalist class (so-called ‘1%’) at home, at the expense of the world’s majority.

Petraeus track record is that of a loyal head of the US imperialist system. In his 37 year military career he has been in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan. He was part of a NATO (de)’Stabilization’ campaign in Bosnia. From the period of 2003 to 2008 he took top leadership positions of the US forces in Iraq. Petraeus oversaw the deadly white phosphorus bombing of the city of Fallujah (which produced more birth defects then Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which were atomically bombed). He also was responsible for inciting ethnic conflicts between Sunni and Shiite Muslims by setting up Shiite “death squads” to indiscriminately torture anyone. Anyone familiar with US involvement in Latin America knows how the CIA trained and funded “death squads” for US backed right-wing military dictatorships. In Afghanistan he took command of US forces and intensified drone attacks which have killed mostly civilians by the thousands. In 2011 he then became director of the CIA but left his post due to an extramarital scandal. What he did in his bedroom is of no importance, but his crimes against humanity are what he should be scorned for.

Given Petraeus status as a war criminal it is truly appalling that CUNY would pull such a move. The US is a white supremacist capitalist-imperialist oppressor nation which has a military and economic foothold on oppressed nations worldwide. By allowing criminals such as Petraeus it gives legitimacy to the idea that the US deserves to militarily and economically dominate other countries. US imperialism has been involved in many nations of the world stretching from Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Greece, Colombia, Puerto Rico, and the Phillipines. In a multinational city such as New York City and nationally diverse campus such as Queens College our parents are the product of wanting to seek better opportunities away from our national homelands. There were no opportunities back home however because our countries were economically exploited for the benefit of US imperialism. In certain CUNY campuses (York, Lehman, City, Medgar Evers, and College of Staten Island) military recruiters in the form of ROTC is returning. Both the appearance of Petraeus and ROTC are an assault to the CUNY students who are mostly of a proletarian and oppressed nationality background. But this assault takes a deadlier turn by pitting proletarian youth of all nationalities in this city against working class people worldwide to fight wars of aggression. In response to this assault, a city wide student movement uniting faculty and community groups must be constructed in order to smash this militarization of CUNY.

I am part of RSCC (Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee). RSCC is an anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist and proletarian feminist CUNY based organization which is fighting to revolutionize the content of our education. It is our view that the education of the current institution is for the purpose of reproducing this capitalist imperialist class society. It is fundamental for students and the community to take institutional control of the CUNY system to bring a revolutionary education to working class and oppressed peoples to understand the world in order to revolutionarily change it. We have recently launched a campaigned called Stop the Militarization of CUNY campaign and we encourage all who are interested to contact us. I’m also a member of Students Without Borders at Queens College, an anti-imperialist, anti-fascist student club which is opposed to wars of aggression. Both our organizations view Petraeus’ hiring, restoring ROTC, even at Queens College, with its stepping up on security personnel, cameras, ID scanners as slow methods of militarizing the campus wholesale. I will be completely honest with the reader. To stop the militarization of society will require a revolutionary struggle which this government has never seen before. But I view struggle as a protracted process increasing from lower to higher stages. A CUNY struggle which ousts Petraeus and ROTC will be a significant victory.

Every Class David

-A RSCC Member

Earlier this year, it was announced publicly that ex CIA director and commander of US forces in Iraq, General David Petraeus would be teaching at CUNY. He was given a one year contract as a visiting professor, to teach a course called “Are we on the threshold of the North American decade?”. At the same time that this was to happen, ROTC (reserve officer training corp) would make a return to CUNY campuses, after having been driven out in 1971 by students and community members.

Naturally, this was a move that had to be opposed by all progressive forces in CUNY. Many people were angry at the fact that Petraeus would be recieving a salary of $200,000 to teach for 3 hours a week. In response, he agreed to teach for $1, a move which effectively killed much of the reaction to his presence in CUNY (though it did reduce the numbers of the resistance, it sifted out the economistic elements who would have become problematic as the campaign develops to be more anti-imperialist). The remaining forces were radical in character, and managed to unite forces to form the Ad-Hoc Committee Against the Militarization of CUNY, spearheaded by my own organization, RSCC (Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee) and the IG (Internationalist Group).

The Ad-Hoc Committee unites on the basis of anti-imperialism, to drive the military industrial complex out of our university. The analysis is that the US is engaging in increasing imperialist aggression as its hegemony is waning in the world, the epitome of which can be seen in its attempts to make war on the Syrian Arab Republic. As it does so, US society experiences more militarization, evident in the degradation of healthcare, closing of schools, police departments being equipped with military technology and ROTC returning to campus while the military budget continues to grow. Petraeus’s presence in CUNY serves the function of legitimizing imperialism, as 9/11 is no longer an effective excuse. After taking a quick look at a draft of his syllabus, it became obvious that Petraeus is attempting to make a case for how the US can stay on top in the global economy by presenting imperialism in liberal terminology, such as “capitalizing on the tide of advances in science and technology”.

The Ad-Hoc committee has hosted two protests so far; one against an ROTC orientation and one against Petraeus’s first day of class. After the second protest ended, the students of RSCC managed to catch Petraeus on the streets as he was walking to his car, and led an impromptu protest. He was called a scumbag and a war criminal, with shouts of “Every class David!” warning him of our intention to continue protesting his classes until he leaves our university.

This action by RSCC is indicative of a qualitative transformation of the organizing that goes on in CUNY. Until recently, organizing was dominated by SUFC (Students United for a Free CUNY), which operated along the flawed and economistic line of student power. The revolutionary elements within SUFC broke away and formed the RSCC, which adopted revolutionary goals as its central principles. The biggest difference was that whereas SUFC organized for gains within the framework of bourgeois society, the aim of RSCC is to build student struggles in the context of class struggle (in tandem with the struggles of oppressed nationalities, women and working class people), producing a concrete role for students in the process of building revolution.

Being an all out revolutionary organization that stands on the shoulders of giants and greatness, the RSCC was not afraid to lead the spontaneous action against Petraeus. In response, thousands of people took it upon themselves to rush to Petraeus’s defense on the internet and over mainstream media. There is hostility towards the protesters, and even several death threats have been made. There is anger at the CUNY administration for not taking disciplinary action against us. There is a scramble to make a case for why Petraeus is NOT a war criminal and why American military ventures are just.

This is excellent. One of the purposes of the campaigns is to polarize public sentiments and opinions about imperialism and Petraeus, and eventually make it more of a burden to have him in CUNY than not. The RSCC will continue to unite forces where necessary and agitate as much as is necessary to fight the militarization of CUNY. The campaign is a concrete practice of anti-imperialism, challenging imperialism here in the belly of the beast as is the task of revolutionaries living in imperialist metropoles.

For the reactionaries and liberals who jump to defend Petraeus, I say thank you! Thank you for making our job so much easier. Their children, and their children’s children will reap the benefits of a world free of imperialism, capitalism, patriarchy and racism one day, and they will have played their part in making such a world possible.

RSCC Calls on All Students to Demonstrate Against Petraeus on Monday, Sept. 9

Monday, September 9th, 2:30 PM
Macaulay Honors College, 35 West 67th St.
(between Central Park West and Columbus Ave.)

RSCC and its allies, under the banner of the Ad Hoc Committee Against the Militarization of CUNY, are calling on all students and faculty of CUNY and members of our communities to protest retired general and ex-CIA director David Petraeus’s class on Monday, September 9th. More info in this leaflet.

We are not fooled by American “benevolence” abroad. Nor are we fooled by it domestically, in our classrooms.

As the US is preparing to declare war on the peoples of Syria, we must take to task what can be done here on our campuses to fight against imperialism. We must condemn the atrocities that David Petraeus committed against people all over the world.  We must expose Petraeus for what he is in the eyes of people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Pakistan, and many more countries. People like Petraeus and institutions such as the US military offer nothing but death squads, torture, and drone attacks.  Petraeus has no place teaching in CUNY!

Oust ROTC from CUNY!
Oust Petraeus from CUNY!
Build a new anti-war movement!