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New York College Students Beaten And Arrested For Protesting Tuition Hikes

Photo credit: NYT

Last night, several City University of New York students were beaten with police batons and arrested for protesting tuition hikes outside a Board of Trustees meeting:

A daylong rally by City University of New York students against a planned tuition increase turned turbulent Monday evening when marchers ignored police requests to clear the lobby of a building at Baruch College where the university’s trustees were meeting and 15 people were arrested.[…]

Carlos Pazmino, 21, a City College student who helped organize the protest, said that after students began opening doors to the auditorium where the CUNY trustees were to hold a public hearing at 5 p.m., CUNY police officers surrounded the entrances and pushed back, using their batons, and that when students formed a line to push past, the officers began hitting the students with the batons.

“I saw two people knocked down by cops,” Mr. Pazmino said. “They were arrested and one guy’s head was bleeding.”

Watch a video of the confrontation:

During the fighting, a crowd of 200 to 300 protesters outside pounded on the lobby windows and shouted, “Shame!”

The group Students United For a Free CUNY, who began the protest, is demanding a repeal of a $300 tuition increase planned each year for the next five years. The protest began in the school cafeteria at lunchtime and moved to Madison Square Park later in the afternoon, where protesters chanted, “Banks got bailed out, students got sold out.”

Although organizers say the CUNY protest is independent of Occupy Wall Street, they support each other and share similar aims. A central tenet of the 99 Percent Movement has been that average Americans struggling to make mortgage and student loan payments deserve the same help from the government that big banks received. At the afternoon rally, a group of New York University and New School students joined CUNY students as part of the Occupy Student Debt campaign, which aims to get a million students to pledge that they will not pay back their loans.

And now they have one more thing in common: in the past few weeks students who have protested at their universities as part of the 99 Percent Movement have encountered brutal treatment from school authorities and the police. Now their counterparts working independently within their own universities to lobby leaders to hear their case are receiving the same violent response.