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21 Sep, 2013 12:05

New video exposes NYPD brutalizing students in protest against Petraeus’ professorship

Video footage has emerged showing New York police using heavy-handed tactics while detaining students protesting against former CIA chief David Petraeus becoming a university professor. RT spoke to one of the arrested rally participants.

The video shows a demonstrator being pressed against the pavement by several policemen, with one of the captors punching the man’s exposed kidney area.

The footage supports the claim of the activists from the City University of New York (CUNY) that police were brutal in dispersing a rally on Tuesday, when 75 people took part in a demonstration protesting former CIA chief, David Petraeus, being given a teaching position at the school.

Six of the protesters were arrested that day and have been charged with obstruction of governmental administration, riot, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. One of them is 24-year-old Denise Ford, who spent 28 hours in police custody following the rally.

They pushed us on to the street and they just started from there where they grabbed one of my comrades, slammed his head against the car and were just all on top of him”, Ford told RT’s Marina Portnaya. “Then I went to try help him out and in the process I ended up falling in between two cars on the back of my head. Then I proceeded to get up. And when I looked to the back of me there were cops on top of my other comrade. I witnessed they picked up his shirt and a police officer took two to five blows to his kidneys. And then a cop just came and grabbed me, pulled me back and cuffed me”. 

Former CIA chief David Petraeus (AFP Photo / Karen Bleier)

The Ad Hoc Committee Against the Militarization of CUNY, the organizer of the rally, issued a press release which described what happened on Tuesday as a “brutal, unprovoked police attack during a peaceful protest” and cited eyewitnesses accounts as proof of that.

"As students were chanting 'War Criminal Petraeus Out of CUNY Now,' I was shocked to see several police officers grab and brutalize one of the demonstrators," said City College student Yexenia Vanegas, according to the press-release. "This was completely unprovoked, as demonstrators made clear that they were there to defend our university in a peaceful protest."

Petreaus’ involvement with the university has been met with broad criticism from students, faculty and staff members who say they don’t want their college to host the man who oversaw wars, drone strikes and alleged torture tactics in the Middle East. Academics and graduate students at CUNY have released a statement calling for all charges to be dropped against the six students arrested by the NYPD.

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.  He is responsible for countless deaths and innumerable destruction in Iraq and Afghanistan as a war commander and chief of the CIA,” the letter reads.

Petreaus’ plans to begin a new career as a visiting professor for CUNY have been met with criticism this summer. In July news emerged he would receive a six figure salary for the job. Following widespread indignation the ex CIA chief’s lawyer announced that the general would fill the post for just $1.

Whether being paid $200,000 or $1, this mass murderer must not be allowed to teach at CUNY,” a leaflet calling for September protests reads.

The demonstration occurred during a fundraiser event, outside CUNY’s Macauley Honors College where Petraeus has been appointed to teach a class on public policy.