Shakur - Morales Student & Community Center Under Attack at City College of New York

NY Daily News cover 12/12/2006NY Daily News cover 12/12/2006Today'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.

NAC 3/201 - Shakur/Morales CenterNAC 3/201 - Shakur/Morales CenterSo 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).

Inside the Shakur/Morales Center - NAC 3/201 at CCNYInside the Shakur/Morales Center - NAC 3/201 at CCNY

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.

Assta ShakurAssta ShakurSo 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.


Top story on Foxnews.com

This story has gone national - it's now the top story on foxnews.com

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,236015,00.html

Students 'Love' Cop Killer Honored at New York College

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

By Sara Bonisteel

NEW YORK — New York City college students who share a community room named for an escaped cop killer called the fugitive their hero Tuesday as the school's officials demanded the removal of the honor.

A handful of campus groups at the City College of New York commended the school for allowing them to work in the name of domestic "terrorist" Assata Shakur, now believed to be hiding in Cuba.

"We know that many Black people that fought for better conditions in the 70's were framed," the groups said in a statement released to FOXNews.com. "We consider Assata Shakur to be one of the people who were wrongfully and purposefully framed for her activities.

"And we consider her a hero and role model for standing up for our people and putting her life on the line."

The chancellor of City University of New York, meanwhile, demanded the "unauthorized and inappropriate signage" be removed.

"Only The Board of Trustees of The City University of New York may designate or name College and University facilities," Goldstein wrote to City College President Gregory H. Williams.

The Guillermo Morales/Assata Shakur Community Center on the third floor of CCNY's North Academic Center was named in 1989 for Shakur, convicted in the 1973 murder of New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster, and Morales, a former member of FALN, which is a Puerto Rican liberation group that claimed responsibility for a rash of bombings in New York in the mid-1970s.

"The president and the chancellor are in full agreement, the sign — which actually was put up by students — in no way reflects the college's or the university's support for the individuals who are named," said Mary Lou Edmondson, spokeswoman for the college, adding, it "is unauthorized and inappropriate and steps will be taken to take it down."

The center is shared by the Student Liberation Action Movement and Students for Educational Rights — groups with approximately 45 members total, Edmondson said.

The United Federation of Students, Union de Jovenes Dominicanos, The Messenger, The Pre-University Program, CCNY Coalition Against the War and CUNY for All! are also listed as sharing the space, according to a sign on the door emblazoned with a painted fist.

A "Morales/Shakur Information Table" outside the office had literature on everything from a campaign to give used books to prisoners to a Philadelphia rally to free convicted murderer Mumia Abu-Jamal.

A student in the Morales/Shakur office, who declined to be interviewed, gave FOXNews.com the joint statement on the naming of the center.

"We would like to close by saying that the American people have a right and a duty to find out the facts about this situation for themselves before they judge it," the student statement said. "And Assata, we love you."

In 2005, the FBI named Shakur, whose real name is Joanne Deborah Chesimard, to its list of most wanted domestic terrorists, placing a $1 million bounty on her head.

In 1977, Shakur was convicted of Foerster's murder during a routine traffic stop. Shakur had been a member of the Black Liberation Army and was wanted in connection with several felonies, including bank robbery, the FBI said.

She skipped out on the life sentence, escaping from prison in Clinton, N.J., on Nov. 2, 1979. She's now believed to be living in Cuba.

A City College student wrote a letter to the Daily News about the naming of the community center, prompting the paper to report Monday that police groups have been angered the school allowed the room to be named for a convicted cop killer.

"We use tax dollars to support an institution that indemnifies a cold-blooded terrorist?" Dave Jones, president of the New Jersey State Troopers Fraternal Association, told the Daily News.

"She's a cowardly, cold-blooded convicted murderer who's part of a murdering sect," he told the newspaper. "She's no different from those people who flew those planes into those towers and destroyed all those innocent lives."

On her Web site, http://www.assatashakur.org/, Shakur says she is innocent.

"I have been a political activist most of my life, and although the U.S. government has done everything in its power to criminalize me, I am not a criminal, nor have I ever been one," she said.

Shakur, who is the godmother of slain hip-hop artist Tupac Shakur, has been heralded as a hero among the hip-hop community and political activist groups and reviled as a villain by police organizations.

Morales is also exiled in Cuba.

Students questioned on the City College campus by FOXNews.com Tuesday hadn't heard about the flap.

"If you look at it at face value and think about what she did, it might seem wrong, but I think you really have to, like, look beyond the whole thing with the cops to really understand, like, where she's coming from," said Orlando Ayala, a 24-year-old senior.

Sophomore Carlos Badilla, 20, of the Bronx, wanted to know why the center was named after Shakur.

"If it had nothing to do with killing the cop, it's alright," he said. "You have to think why she did it, cause cops are known to mess with some people, you know. If she had a reason to do it then I have no problem with it."

But senior Diana Perez, 27, disagreed.

"I don't see why they would name it after a woman like that," she said. "I don't know their reasons behind it, but I don't think it's a good idea."


Shakur-Morales Center

This is fucked up...The Daily News is on some bullshit! As someone who knew two people who worked on the Messenger and has been by the center I'm real pissed off to hear about this garbage. There is a similar student center at Hunter that was founded by SLAM! members. I say flood the Daily News with protest letters and e-mails tell them to back the fuck off.

Hands Off Assata! Hands off Guillermo Morales!

Thano Paris


Assata Shakur / Guillermo Morales Press Release

We know that many Black people who fought for better conditions in the 1970’s were framed. We consider Assata Shakur to be one of the people who were wrongfully and purposefully framed for her activities. And we consider her a hero and role model for standing up for our people and putting her life on the line. We commend City College for asserting out right to have this room and use it to serve the community in Assata and Guillermo’s names.

I will now read from the 5 proofs that Assata Shakur is innocent, given by Evelyn Williams of the NJ crime labs in Trenton NJ and the FBI crime labs in Washington D.C.:

- The finger print analyses of every gun and every piece of ammunition found at the scene showed that there were no fingerprints of Assata found on any of them.

- Neutron Activation Analysis showed there was no gunpowder residue on her hands effectively refuting the possibility that she had fired a gun.

- Assata was shot under her armpit by NJ State Trooper James Harper, severely wounding and paralyzing her.

- A surgeon testified that “it was anatomically necessary that both arms be in the air for Ms. Chesimard [Assata Shakur] to have received the wounds that she did.

The Guillermo Morales/Assata Shakur Community Center was named in 1989 by students who successfully countered a tuition hike. For the last 17 years we've been a valuable resource for the college community – from providing lower-cost textbooks to mentoring to making printing available, to running soup kitchens. We run classes and workshops on political education and the history of City College and CUNY. We retell the struggles for open admissions that our people have fought and won. We would like to thank City College for their rational and level-headed response. The college is a space for questioning and explorations of myriad opinions and perspectives.

We would like to close by saying that the American people have a right and a duty to find out the facts about this situation for themselves before they judge it. And Assata, we wish you a happy birthday and love you.


Community activists will help the Students & Faculty Fight Back

The sign on the Guillermo Morales / Assata Shakur Community Center at CCNY was removed after 17 years because of a front page article by the Daily News calling Assata a “terrorist” and a “cop killer”. This center was so named after people who put their life on the line to resist the racism of the 70’s. This Center provided 17 years of valuable services for the students and the community including soup kitchens.
The Daily News did not print a front page story about the incredible “March for Justice” which took place this past Saturday, but the next day (Sunday) it did print a front page picture of two black basketball players punching each other.
Are you tired of being depicted as demons?
Assata and Morales escaped the unjust bondage that was planned for them. Assata is now 60 years old paralyzed on her right side because of police shooting her under her arm and in the back and the Daily News is calling her a terrorist. She is not a cop killer. Look up the forensic report in her court records.
Morales was pardoned by then President Clinton when Hillary wanted the Hispanic vote to become Senator.

Are you tired of our freedom fighters being depicted as demons?

Then… Boycott the DAILY NEWS.
DON’T even take the free copy.

DON’T give your money to people who are killing our minds and denigrating Our people.


more (and more) coverage...

...in today's Daily News, the attack continues:
New name shame: Sign ordered down but CUNY students call cop killer 'hero'
http://www.nydailynews.com/front/story/479754p-403557c.html

New York Times
CUNY Chief Orders Names Stripped From Student Center
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/13/nyregion/13cuny.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Chronicle of Higher Education blog:
Name Game Turns Shame Game at City U. of New York
http://chronicle.com/news/article/1405/name-game-turns-shame-game-at-city-u-of-new-york

Newsday:
NYC college will yank sign honoring bomb maker, black militant
http://www.newsday.com/news/local/wire/newyork/ny-bc-ny--citycollege-milit1212dec12,0,4212832.story?coll=ny-region-apnewyork

Gothamist:
City College Takes Fugitives' Names Off Campus Center
http://www.gothamist.com/archives/2006/12/13/city_college_ta.php

Post Chronicle:
Police Organizations Slam NY College For Honoring Cop-Killer
http://www.postchronicle.com/news/original/article_21254248.shtml

CNSNews.com
NYC Students Hope to Retain Terrorists' Name on Building
http://www.cnsnews.com/news/viewstory.asp?Page=/Culture/archive/200612/CUL20061213b.html


Update from Attorney Ron McGuire 12/14/2006

This morning City College security officers removed the sign and the pictures of Assata Shakur and Guillermo Morales that have been hanging over the door of the Guillermo Morales/Assata Shakur Community and Student Center for over 17 years.

A memo from City College Vice President Ramona Brown stated that the students will face college disciplinary action if they replace the sign.

On Friday, December 15th at 7:30 PM in room 3/201 in the NAC Building at City College there will be a community meeting to determine a response to CUNY's latest attack on the Morales/Shakur Community Center.

Please come and spread the word.

For further information call the Morales/Shakur Community Center at 212-650-5008.

Ronald B. McGuire


Blowing the Whistle

I stand by my decision to blow the whistle by notifying the Daily News. The student center should represent all students, not just leftist radicals. Shakur is a terrorist and does not deserve ot be honored.


For whom the whistle blows (it blows for thee . . . )

The only whistle that needs to be blown is on you, a supporter of Israeli and apartheid, Sergey. You are in no position, as an apologist for the terror of Ariel Sharon, Ehud Ohlmert, and now Avigdor Lieberman, to tell us who should be honored.

You wish to denigrate our freedom fighters. For what reason, other than that they fought racism and imperialism that your beloved "birthright" nation stands for?


I got drunk with some of Sergey's "friends"

Yeah, I always find myself in funky situations and weird places. For the record Sergey's friends are sick fucked up folk and I never want to see these people again. Seriously.

LMAO!

... well, I wouldn't consider them Sergey's friends since these people who I got drunk with or appeared to get drunk with straight up hate Jews, blacks, latina women, asians etc. Sergey (mazeartist) is Jewish by the way.

I was hanging with a an old buddy who came back from Iraq many months ago and who brought me to a place full of bigots and morons. This place has old Nazi items, like authentic WWII german helmuts and knives and pro-Nazi books in german, etc, etc.

They openly talk about Ayrian superiority and taking back the Nation from "liberals". I said I was a radical insane nutcase and didnt like being called a "liberal". They trust you better if you say you're "insane" and give you free beer. It's a machoismo thing, where men respect what they fear. And they always "fear" what they don't know. You can't know insanity. All of these people build on insanity. Beer helps.

Some of those people were organizers known as "Protest Warriors". To make a long story short, we debated about martial arts, war, then the anti-war movement in CUNY, and then "MazeArtist" came up! They knew him!!!

They all started laughing real loud at my accusation that Mazeartist was one of them. They instantly accused him of having sexual fantasies with conservative black men.

They called Sergey a useful "parasite". They told me the analogy of using "germs to kill germs". Meaning using Zionists (Sergey) to attack what they call "sand-nigger loving commies" (Me but I'm an Anarchist).

I actually found myself defending Sergey as a nice guy who is misguided.

In Sergey's face, they act friendly. But behind the kid's back, they see him as "dumb loyal mule" to their drunken plans.

Back in City College, students see Sergey as a sad lonely misguided boy. But these "protest warriors" think this guy is an idiot and take active advantage of him and they bragged about it so proudly.

Im not saying that "protest warriors" are all Nazi. I'm saying some of their members are and plot on how to use Zionist members and Black Conservatives who are counter protestors for their own agenda.

It was not clear how much control they have over "Protest Warriors", but they sound like they got it under lock.

Anyways ... good work Sergey keep doing the bidding of these pro-Nazi forces. By the way, NJ State Police has always been accused of collaboration with New Jersey Nazi movements.

You make a very pathetic Zionist. Do not contact me, your circle is frightening. I ain't fucking with you.


Rally for Shakur/Morales Center Dec 20


Lawsuit Filing: Students Defend Free Speech and Assert Their...

January 5, 2007

Students Defend Free Speech and Assert Their Right to
Autonomy

HARLEM, NY: A group of students from the City College
of New York and associated community groups will file
suit in federal court on Monday, January 8th to ask
for a temporary restraining order to force the City
College of New York (CCNY), one of the schools in the
City University of New York (CUNY) system, to restore
the sign that has hung outside the Guillermo
Morales/Assata Shakur Community and Student Center
since 1990 and ensure that the college doesn’t use
recent events as a pretext to evict student and
community organizations from the room. Morales/Shakur
representatives will hold a press conference outside
the courthouse at 500 Pearl St at 2 PM.

There will be a hearing at 3PM in room 26-B on the
Plaintiffs’ motion for an emergency injunction to
permit the students to replace the sign and to
prohibit CUNY security from continuing to harass
meetings at the Morales/Shakur Community Center. The
lawsuit follows events that transpired after the Daily
News published a letter by a disgruntled student at
the college complaining that the center was named
after a “cop killer” and published a front page story
and an editorial on December 12, 2006 demanding that
the sign be removed. Several other media outlets ran
follow up stories.

CCNY’s Communications VP originally told the Daily
News that while the college doesn’t approve of the
name, it respects academic freedom and the right of
students to name their space as they see fit. CUNY
Chancellor Matthew Goldstein, however, posted an open
letter on the university’s website directing CCNY
President Williams to have the sign removed.
Ironically, Goldstein admitted that the Morales/Shakur
Community Center had been named with the permission of
a former City College President. Students returned to
campus on December 14th and found the sign missing.
Upon reporting the theft to security, the sign was
returned. CCNY’s VP of Student Affairs sent a memo to
the students threatening them with disciplinary action
if any one of them returned the sign to its original
place, but the CCNY administration has thus far
refused to meet with the students, balking at their
insistence that legal counsel be present and that they
be allowed to tape-record the meeting.

Following recent events, students and community
members attempting to use the Community Center have
been under increased harassment by college security,
including refusal to allow community members to
enter the campus and an arbitrary enforcement of how
many people can enter the room at one time—often
forcing people to pass through a gauntlet of security
officers to do so. Attorney Ron McGuire says that the
college’s actions are illegal because they constitute
discrimination based on political viewpoints and that
the Board of Trustees’ enforcement of rules is
arbitrary. “You can’t allow students to hang signs at
colleges all over this university saying ‘Newman
Center’ (after Catholic Cardinal John Henry Newman)
or ‘Hillel Foundation’ (after Rabbi Hillel) and then
ban a sign saying ‘Morales/Shakur Community Center”,
says McGuire. “CUNY can’t let students name their
organizations and offices after cardinals and rabbis
and then prohibit other students from giving the same
recognition to Black Panthers or Puerto Rican freedom
fighters.”

The Morales/Shakur Center, run by Students for
Educational Rights, houses several student
organizations, as well as The Pre-University
program, run by the Dominicans 2000 and Dominican
Youth Union organizations. The students are resolute
in their efforts to both keep their space and the
current name. “This is about whether or not students
have the power to define our own heroes,” says Rodolfo
Leyton, the Center’s director and a CCNY Architecture
student. “Assata Shakur was framed as part of the
FBI’s COINTELPRO Operation and was a victim of an
assassination attempt, as she was shot with her hands
up and once in the back. Guillermo Morales was one of
the participants in the Open Admissions strike that
desegregated CUNY in 1969. Both of them were CCNY
students and are respected by many in the Black and
Puerto Rican communities. We are inspired by their
commitment to the liberation of Black and Latino
people, and we choose to honor them.”

###


Daily News: Pol re-signs fugitives at CUNY

Latest news on this story, from the right wing Daily News:

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/local/story/495993p-417955c.html

Pol re-signs fugitives at CUNY

City Councilman Charles Barron considers Thomas Jefferson a "slave-owning pedophile."

So perhaps it shouldn't be any surprise that the former Black Panther restored a controversial City College sign honoring two fugitives, most notably Assata Shakur, a fellow Black Panther convicted of killing a cop and making terrorist bombs.

"We are here to say to the City University that we have a right to self-determination, that we have a right to free speech, that we have a right to freedom of expression," Barron said. "We are saying that you can't determine who our heroines and heroes are going to be."

The sign, which was first put up in 1990, was removed Dec. 13 after causing outrage for celebrating the lives of two fugitives: Shakur and bomber Guillermo Morales.

Morales built bombs for a Puerto Rican terrorist group and now lives in Cuba. Shakur, known then as Joanne Chesimard, also fled to Cuba after she was wounded in a shooting that killed a New Jersey state trooper in 1973.

School officials ordered the sign removed saying trustees never approved it. Students hit back by suing over the decision.

Labeling them "heroes" and "freedom fighters," Barron said he would return to City College if the sign is removed again. That shouldn't take long, CCNY officials said.


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