Shakur - Morales Student & Community Center Under Attack at City College of New York
Today's NY Daily News cover story, Wanted by FBI, Honored by CCNY: 'Terrorist' lauded at CCNY and editorial, Celebrating killers at City College are an attack on the Shakur / Morales Center at the City College of New York and the student activist groups housed there, particularly the Student Liberation Action Movement (SLAM).
Earlier this year Left Spot reprinted an article summing up the 10 year history of SLAM, Some Thoughts on the History of CUNY SLAM, which was written on the 10th anniversary of SLAM in April 2006. Left Spot also hosts a CUNY article collection that includes things from and about SLAM as well as other things from the rich history of radical student activism at CUNY. It is not an exaggeration to say that the student movement since the 1960s at CUNY has been one of the most important movements for students and for oppressed nationalities in U.S., as laid out by Ron McGuire in his 1992 article The Struggle at CUNY: Open Admissions and Civil Rights.
So what is this attack from the reactionary NY Daily News about? It is an ostensibly an attack on the name of the activist student and community center at City College, which is named after Black Panther and Black liberation movement leader Assata Shakur and Puerto Rican revolutionary Guillermo Morales. Both Shakur and Morales were students at City College at some point in their journeys to become revolutionaries. The community center at CCNY honors their names and their legacies by having their names and pictures above the entry to the room.
The community center was won through struggle. It says so right inside the room in big letters: "This space was won through struggle". It was in the building takeovers against tuition increases in 1989-1991 that student activists demanded that City College, located in the heart of Harlem, should develop deeper connections with the community. The students who took over the NAC building demanded a space in the building to be a community center to develop those ties. They won the demand and the result was the creation of the Shakur / Morales Community Center, which has served as a center of student and community activism ever since (and has not-so-coincidentally also periodically come under attack from various CUNY and CCNY administrations ever since - for example in 1998 when the CCNY administration and cops installed a hidden surveillance camera in front of the center to spy on student activists).
In response to the Daily News article, CUNY's Chancellor Goldstein immediately released a statement condemning the use of Shakur & Morales's name on the community center and calling on CCNY President Williams to immediately take the names off the room.
Why this attack on a relatively small usually unnoticed student / community center at CCNY at this time? Clearly the New York Police are in a heap of trouble these days after the outrageous police murder of Sean Bell, a young unarmed African American man who was to be married a few hours later, which has sparked militant protests in New York and outrage in New York and around the world.
So this attack on a small community center at CCNY, which has been around for 18 years, seems to be deflection -- they're hoping that instead of focusing on the travesty carried out by the NYPD, they want to flip the script and get people worried about "cop killers" and their alleged supporters roaming the halls of CUNY. The Daily News does this when times get tough for the powers that be - they always find an easy out by attacking leftists in CUNY. They did the same thing soon after the US invaded Afghanistan; an anti-war educational event was held at City College and the Daily News ran hysterical stories about "terrorist supporters" and other such smears. So this is par for the course, but still nonetheless infuriating. Don't let them change the subject.
Look here or at All Out for the Fight in the coming days for things that can be done to support the student and community activists at City College of New York who are under attack.