Six students from the City University of New York were charged with multiple offenses on Wednesday night after being arrested while protesting the university’s hiring of former CIA director and ex-general, David Petraeus, who had a key role in secret detention and torture centers setup by Iraqi security forces.
The criminal complaint filed against the students indicates they were charged with disorderly conduct, riot, resisting arrest and obstruction of governmental administration.
The students arrested are Augustin Castro, Jose Disla, Denise Ford, Luis Henriquez, Angelica Hernandez and Rafael Pena. They were arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court and appeared with Lamis Deek, a lawyer from the National Lawyers Guild who is representing them.
According to New York law, “A person is guilty of disorderly conduct when, with intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly causing risk” that person “engages in fighting or in violent, tumultuous or threatening behavior” or “makes unreasonable noise.” A person can also face this charge if he or she “uses abusive or obscene language or makes an obscene gesture” or, “without lawful authority,” disturbs “any lawful assembly or meeting of persons.”
One can face charges of “riot” if they engage in “tumultuous” behavior intended to “create public alarm.”
Obstruction of governmental administration charges are committed under the state’s law when someone “intentionally obstructs, impairs or perverts the administration of law or other governmental function or prevents or attempts to prevent a public servant from performing an official function by means of intimidation, physical force or interference.”
The students were arrested while Petraeus was attending a CUNY Macaulay Honors College fundraiser. They were outside picketing on a public sidewalk, and, due to the size of the protest, the street. They were in jail for over twenty hours before finally being arraigned.
Faculty and staff from CUNY and other universities in the US signed on to a statement expressing “outrage at the violent and unprovoked actions by the NYPD against CUNY students peacefully protesting at the appointment of war criminal David Petraeus as a lecturer at the Macaulay Honors College.”
“We deplore the use of violence and brutal tactics against CUNY students and faculty who were protesting outside the college. It is unacceptable for the university to allow the police to violently arrest students,” the statement declared.
The statement further explained, “We emphatically support the efforts of these CUNY students to resist the attempts by the U.S. government and the CUNY administration to turn the university into an infamous “war college” with the appointment of Petraeus. Petraeus is responsible for countless deaths and innumerable destruction in Iraq and Afghanistan as a war commander and chief of the CIA.”
The union condemned his support for a strike on Syria and said his current role as “adjunct” lecturer at CUNY and professor at University of Southern California indicates “increasing US military and state security involvement within higher education.”
“We call on CUNY to terminate Petraeus’ appointment and to ask for the charges against these students to be dropped immediately,” the statement of support concluded.
The statement was posted to the UC Student-Workers Union Local 2865 website. The union represents over 12,000 academic student employees on the nine teaching campuses of University of California.
Steve Horn contributed to some of the reporting in this post. He will have an additional report later today on the arrests and charges against the CUNY students.