Sunday, March 16, 2014

"Police Violence Against CCSF Students: GET THE FACTS"

2014-03-16 from "Save CCSF Coalition" []:
Please watch and share the following video which shows the facts about Thursday's protest:
On Thursday, March 13 City College students calling for the resignation of Bob Agrella and the reversal of the new tuition policy were beaten and pepper-sprayed by the police. Yet the CCSF administration is now claiming that it was the students who were violent [link]. What are the facts?
For months Special Trustee Agrella has refused to meet with student representatives, leaving them no option but peaceful protest to make their voices heard. On Thursday, the Agrella administration continued to shut out students and provoked police violence through two unprecedented decisions:
(1) It closed Conlan Hall, a school building open to the public in which many past demonstrations have been allowed, and (2) Rather than rely on campus police, it brought in dozens of San Francisco City Police who escalated the situation [link].
In response, students attempted to open the doors to hold their planned peaceful sit-in. Allegations that students struck or assaulted officers in this process are completely unfounded: video footage clearly shows that all physical assaults were by police against students -- not the other way around. Did students such as Otto Pippenger and Dimitrious Philliou deserve to be met with police batons, punches, and pepper-spray [] for simply trying to enter Conlan Hall to defend their right to an education?
The next day, members of the SF Board of Supervisors and State Assembly denounced the police violence, and a Board commission approved a resolution calling for Agrella's removal and the return of the democratically-elected Trustees (Video 140123 Urging State Community College Chancellor Brice Harris to Restore City College of San Francisco's Duly Elected Board of Trustees []).
CCSF students remain committed to non-violent protest to demand the resignation of Agrella and the cancellation of the tuition payment policy. Join us this Thursday, March 20th at 2 pm in front of Conlan Hall for a peaceful vigil against police violence, to collectively reaffirm why we love our school and why we never want the police violence of last week to occur again.

Upcoming Actions to Save CCSF [] -
* NEXT STUDENT MEETING OF SAVE CCSF COALITION: Thursday, March 20th, 4:30 pm, at the Student Union, CCSF Ocean Campus
* VIGIL AGAINST POLICE VIOLENCE: Thursday, March 20th at 2pm. In front of Conlan Hall. A peaceful vigil against police violence, to collectively reaffirm why we love our college and why we never want the police violence of last week to occur again.
* COURT HEARING THIS FRIDAY: Click here for update and summary of the status of the Save CCSF lawsuit against the ACCJC. Please come out for motions regarding the case in Judge Karnow's courtroom: Monday, March 21st, 9:00 am, at Dept 304 (400 McAllister, SF). Check calendar on website to verify as the legal system is capricious.
* DCC FUNDRAISER EVENT: Come to a fundraising event on March 21st to protect CCSF department chairs and retain democracy and faculty voice at the college.
* NEXT GENERAL MEETING OF SAVE CCSF COALITION: Probably Second Week in April. Please check calendar on website.

The Enrollment Campaign office will be open next Saturday, March 22 (we will be closed for Spring Break on March 29 and April 5). Come by, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., to pick up supplies (posters, late start fliers, program guides and brochures) that you will distribute to a neighborhood of your choice on Saturday or any time during the week.
You will be sent to cafes, laundromats, and bookstores. Nail salons have also been added to the assignments. Have you noticed that, as gentrification spreads, those salons are some of the few businesses that actually allow posters in their windows?
If you haven't joined our effort, now's a good time to get started. Though we really appreciate the regulars, old and new, who keep this operation moving, we're grateful for those who can only make a one-time commitment.
Thanks also to Nancy Reiko who gave an honorable mention to the Enrollment Campaign when she and others met with State Chancellor Brice Harris during the March in March early this month.

Peaceful rally by San Francisco students to defend their college attacked by San Francisco Community College Police and Municipal Police, according to...

"Rally at City College of San Francisco Turns Violent; Two Detained",
2014-03-13 from "KQED" News Staff []: The Save CCSF Coalition has issued a statement saying that the students who entered the administrative building at the Ocean campus intend to continue their sit-in until Agrella steps down and the payment policy is reversed. The statement reads: “The students are demanding that the Special Trustee With Extraordinary Powers (STWEP), Robert Agrella, step down. Ever since the democratically elected Board of Trustees were stripped of their powers students, faculty and staff have endured a series of destructive decisions and policies. One such policy the students are demanding be reversed is the aggressive payment policy that has forced many students out of school.” [ ... ] Dimitrious Philliou, the student who was pepper-sprayed and arrested, spoke with KQED reporter Alex Emslie as he was in the back of an ambulance. According to Philliou, he was trying to enter the building “that is public for students” when he was stopped by officers during the scrum. After asking why he was being detained, he said that police pushed him to the ground and pepper-sprayed him in the eyes. “It was extremely painful. The pain is still excruciating and they still aren’t giving me a reason for my arrest,” said Philliou, although he was told that he was being held for trespassing and resisting arrest. The officer in the ambulance confirmed that he was under arrest, but couldn’t confirm the charges. [ ... ] A rally at City College of San Francisco turned violent this afternoon when protesters attempted to enter the school’s administration building, Conlan Hall, to present a petition to special trustee Robert Agrella calling for his resignation. According to KQED reporter Alex Emslie, who was on campus covering the rally organized by the Save CCSF Coalition, the event became chaotic around 1:30 p.m. when students and teachers tried to enter Conlan Hall. Campus police blocked the entrances to the building, said Emslie, forcing the 250 or so marchers to circle the building looking for an open door. Protesters eventually pushed aside San Francisco Community College Police Chief Andre Barnes and forced their way inside. At that point, said Emslie, “it was a melee.” Campus police were promptly joined by officers from the San Francisco Police Department, who attempted to physically stop the protesters from entering the building. According to Emslie, batons were used to push back the crowd, and there was at least one detention of a student. Emslie said that while that student was being held on the ground in the process of being detained, he was hit by an officer, slamming his head into the concrete. Police and students were involved in a dispute at CCSF following a rally about accreditation issues. (Alex Emslie/KQED)

"Student pepper sprayed and two arrested at City College protest"
2014-03-14 by Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez from "San Francisco bay Guardian" []:
Update Friday, 1:32pm: The Guardian published an updated post on the status of the two detained student protesters, who were later released, here: [].
(Photo from AFT 2121)

One student protester was pepper sprayed, and others hit with batons, tackled, and arrested today at the City College of San Francisco’s main campus. Over 200 students were demanding the resignation of Special Trustee Robert Agrella, tasked by the state authorities with saving the college, usurping the authority of its locally elected Board of Trustees.
[Update 8:20pm: The Sheriff's Department confirmed two students are in custody, but could not confirm if SFPD or City College police made the arrest. Witnesses confirmed that the first student, Otto Pippenger, was pulled down to the pavement by multiple officers. While he was on his stomach an officer punched him in the back of head, slamming his forehead into the concrete, according to the account of Alex Emslie, a reporter on the scene. The second student, Dimitrios Philliou, was driven away in an ambulance.]
“Some students were pepper sprayed, some were clubbed,” City College Student Trustee Shanell Williams told the Guardian. “This is unacceptable, and really fucked up.”
City College faculty and union president Alisa Messer told us there are now over a dozen students in Conlan Hall, the administrative building in City College’s main campus, which also houses Argella’s office. The students intend on camping all night if they have to, they said.
There are also students outside the public building who are giving support, Messer told us, adding that the situation got out of hand quickly.
“It got pretty rough, pretty quick. Students pushed their way into Conlan Hall and police were quick to get their sticks out. I was pushed around,” she said. “I think this is clearly one of those situations where police presence escalated, rather than de-escalated the situation”
The SFPD declined to comment on the incident, saying the matter was in the jurisdiction of the CCSF Police Department, who are sworn officers. The City College police haven’t yet returned our calls, but we’ll update this post if and when they do. It is also unclear which police pepper sprayed students: the City College police, or SFPD cops providing mutual aid.
The Sheriff’s Department said it did not have the students in custody, yet. “We don’t have these gentlemen in our custody,” said SFSD spokesperson Kathy Gorwood. [UPDATE 5:45pm: Gorwood confirmed that one student, Otto Pippenger, was booked shortly after 4:30pm on two misdemeanor charges: resisting arrest and battery on emergency personnel, with bail set at $23,000, after he was examined by a nurse and found to not need medical treatment. Gorwood said Philliou had not been booked.]
City College of San Francisco was told by its accreditors, the ACCJC, that it would lose its accreditation by this summer -- a move that would force the school to close. The school and its accreditors are mired in legal battles which may decide the fate of City College of San Francisco.
A student shortly after the incident recalls what happened [].
In the midst of the conflict stands Agrella, a controversial figure in the City College community. Some students and faculty from the Save CCSF Coalition and American Federation of Teachers Local 2121 say that the special trustee is heeding the whims of the accreditors and ceding the fight for local control. The accreditors’ decision was wrong about City College, they say, and based on fiscal matters over educational ones.
Others, including Mayor Ed Lee, support the special trustee and say he is the best hope to get City College back in line. Yet Argella replaced the college’s democratically elected Board of Trustees, which makes policy decisions for the college. Now there are no public meetings, and no public comment, on decisions made by the special trustee.
He does, however, hold “meetings” in the form of email. He solicits emails from the community, which he deems “public comment.” This is farcical to some, leading Sup. David Campos to call for a hearing tomorrow at City Hall to look into restoring the Board of Trustees.

[UPDATE 5:20pm: Save CCSF Coalition has issued the following statement:
CCSF Students Occupy Admin Building Demanding Special Trustee Step Down
Thirty City College of San Francisco students have entered the administration building at the Ocean Campus and are holding a sit-in to protest the lack of democracy at the college and the new student payment policy.
The students are demanding that the Special Trustee With Extraordinary Powers (STWEP), Robert Agrella, step down. Ever since the democratically elected Board of Trustees were stripped of their powers students, faculty and staff have endured a series of destructive decisions and policies. One such policy the students are demanding be reversed is the aggressive payment policy that has forced many students out of school.
Itzel Calvo, an documented student, said, "I was not able to enroll in classes this semester unless I paid thousands of dollars in tuition up front, even before the classes started. I can't afford that."
Lalo Gonzalez, a student senator, said, "The reign of this STWEP has been disastrous. Classes were cut that students needed and the diversity departments are in danger."
Police denied students entry to the building and after a skirmish at the doors of Conlan Administration Building, 30 students entered. One student was pepper sprayed and taken by ambulance to the hospital.
They intend to continue their sit-in until the STWEP leaves and the payment policy is reversed.]

[UPDATE 6:17pm: After City College student Otto Pippenger was arrested and booked following a protest at the college's main campus, the faculty union and Pippenger's mother scrambled to help.
His mother, Heidi Alletzhauser, told the Guardian "Otto’s is in jail, so of course I am upset. I do not know the full extent of what transpired but it appeared the situation escalated very quickly, and perhaps those involved were operating at a fight-or-flight level. I am worried about my son and the other boy who was arrested, and what this means for their futures."
She said she was not able to get Pippenger out of detention tonight, but was told if she brought him to a judge tomorrow he may possibly be released on his own recognizance.
"If not, we could try for bail tomorrow," she said. His bail is set at $23,000, and Philliou's bail is set to $6,000, the Sheriff's Department confirmed. Philliou's charges are resisting arrest, and returning to school campus, according to the Sheriff's Department, perhaps indicating he was ordered to leave and then came back.
In the meantime, City College's faculty union, the AFT 2121, was busy making phone calls to see if they could raise money for Pippenger's release, if needed.
"Two were arrested," CCSF Chief of Police Andre Barnes told us. He could not confirm if the second student, Dimitrious Philliou, was in General Hospital.
Reporter Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez is currently at a City College planning meeting waiting to speak to Chancellor Arthur Q. Tyler. We will update this post as more information is obtained.]

"Campaign to Save City College of San Francisco (CCSF)"
2014-03-21 from "Socialist Organizer Newsletter" No. 2:
One week ago, more than 150 students -- with the support of faculty members and their union, AFT 2121 -- staged a noon-time rally at the main plaza at City College of San Francisco, followed by a sit-in at Conlan Hall, the administration building. The students raised two central demands: (1) the resignation of Special Trustee Bob Agrella, and (2) the suspension of the new payment policy (which is responsible for expelling large numbers of low-income students, mainly students of color, from the college).
The students mobilized to Conlan Hall, which has traditionally been the site of student sit-ins and protests. Last fall, a peaceful overnight sit-in at the same location had highlighted the privatization agenda of the ACCJC accreditation board and other central student-faculty demands
This time the city police, called in by Agrella, sought to prevent the students from exercising their first-amendment rights to protest at a public building on the university campus. The students peacefully insisted on affirming their basic civil rights, but were met with police violence the likes of which had never been seen at CCSF.
Immediately following the police violence, AFT 2121 sent out a notice to all its members urging them to join the students at Conlan Hall. The text blast read as follows:
"Come support our students at Conlan Hall!: A group of CCSF students has entered the administration building and is holding a sit-in to protest the lack of democracy at the college and the new student payment policy. Police are denying entry to the building and a tremendous SFPD presence caused a violent skirmish at the doors of Conlan. One student was pepper sprayed and taken by ambulance to the hospital. Things are now calm and CCSF police have agreed to let the students stay inside, but your support for their spirits is needed outside. Please come show support at Conlan Hall."
The union bought pizzas for all the student protestors and paid the bail money to get one of the arrested students out of jail. San Francisco Supervisor David Campos came to CCSF in the early afternoon to show his support for the students' two main demands. He stressed, in particular, the importance of enabling all undocumented students, as he once was, to attend CCSF.
Two days later, the Save CCSF Student Committee issued a statement to explain what happened, titled, "Police Violence Against Students: Get the Facts." We posted this statement to our S.O. website; it can be accessed at: [http://socialistorganizer/jvfdj].
The posting contains links to a rally that was held in front of City Hall the day after the sit-in to demand that Agrella step down and that the elected trustees be reinstated. The rally -- chaired by AFT 2121 President Alisa Messer and featuring numerous elected officials -- also supported the students and denounced the police violence.
Following the rally, a public hearing was held inside City Hall to support a Board of Supervisors resolution submitted by Supervisor David Campos that calls for putting an end to the Special Trustee and returning all elected trustees to their jobs.
In the course of the very moving testimony, one educator pointed out that the imposition of a Special Trustee at CCSF was no different from the imposition of a Special Manager in the State of Michigan -- a post that removed the power of all city councils across the state to decide their own budgets (as the local councils had been resisting implementing the full list of Draconian budget cuts and union-busting measures demanded by the Wall Street banksters and the governor in the name of paying back the state debt). In fact, the imposition of the Special Trustee is in line with the imposition of the Troika (European Union, European Central Bank, and IMF) and its anti-worker dictates in Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy and elsewhere across Europe.
The Student Committee statement also includes a link to this very powerful public hearing in defense of City College and public education.
This past Wednesday (3/19), the city prosecutor dropped all charges against the two students who had been arrested --  Otto Pippenger and Dimitrious Philliou -- thereby further exposing the lie by Agrella and the CCSF administration that the students had been the ones promoting the violence.
And yesterday (Thursday), an estimated 70 students and supporters gathered in front of Conlan Hall in a peaceful vigil to reiterate their demands and decry the police violence.
A relatively decent article, with good quotes from student Micheal Madden, was published in today's San Francisco Chronicle -- a rare occurrence in this paper -- about the vigil. It can be accessed at: [].

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