Yesterday, Tafadar “Taffy” Sourov and Khalil Vasquez, two leaders of the CUNY student movement, were arraigned at the Manhattan Criminal Court, after spending more than 24 hours in jail. They are now facing criminal charges, in addition to academic discipline, for their role as leaders in the campaign to save the Morales / Shakur Center at City College and the broader struggle to liberate CUNY for the people.
The allegations against them stem from an October 24 demonstration at City College against the CUNY administration’s illegal raid and seizure of the Morales / Shakur Center. The State filed multiple criminal charges against them, including several class A misdemeanors, such as inciting to riot, riot in the second degree, obstructing governmental administration, and two counts of criminal mischief.
More than a hundred students, faculty, and community members gathered to greet Khalil and Taffy as they emerged from jail. The supporters began the morning with a rally at 9 AM, featuring speakers from the Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee, IGNITE, the Internationalist Group, the Morales / Shakur Center Coordinating Committee, as well as other individuals. They packed the limited seating in the courtroom and the overflow crowd spilled into the halls outside.
Members of the Professional Staff Congress (CUNY faculty and staff union), Sister Circle Collective, People Power Movement, the Party for Socialism and Liberation, Stop Stop and Frisk Freedom Fighters, the People’s Survival Program, and several other organizations joined Khalil and Taffy’s comrades, friends, and family to send a message of defiance and opposition against this latest round of repression against the CUNY movement.
The struggle to defend Khalil and Taffy continues on Friday, November 22, 9 AM at their second academic disciplinary hearing at City College and Wednesday, January 9, 2014, 9:30 AM at their second court date at the NYC Criminal Court.
The repression against Khalil and Taffy is the cutting edge of an ongoing reactionary trend to more thoroughly transform CUNY into an ideological bastion of white-supremacist capitalism. By punishing Khalil and Taffy, the ruling class hopes to strike fear in all CUNY students who might speak out and protest. Not only is the fate of two key student leaders at stake here, but the entire character of what CUNY will be in the coming years and decades is at stake.
As the speaker from RSCC said at the morning rally:
“In New York City, there are two visions of CUNY. There are two visions of who CUNY should serve. There are two visions of what CUNY should be. There are two visions of how CUNY should be governed. …
The capitalist class wants a CUNY where Black and Latino students from New York City are driven out. The working class wants a CUNY that is open to every high school graduate in New York City.
The capitalist class wants a CUNY that is more and more expensive. The working class wants a CUNY that is free.
The capitalist class wants a CUNY where students learn from a war criminal like David Petraeus, to become a tool of imperialism like Colin Powell. The working class wants a CUNY where students learn to serve the people, to become revolutionaries who return to the neighborhoods we come up, to uplift our class through militant struggle.
The capitalist class wants a CUNY without a Morales / Shakur Center. The working class wants a CUNY where there is a Morales / Shakur Center on every campus.
The capitalist class wants the police and the District Attorney to run CUNY. The working class wants the exploited and oppressed people of this city to run CUNY.
CUNY today exists to serve the needs of capitalism. The CUNY we want will be a base area for building a revolutionary youth and student movement for socialism.”