Hunter College, NYC: 5 Arrested for Protesting Torture
Revolution #020, October 30, 2005, posted at revcom.us
Revolution received this correspondence:
On Tuesday, Oct. 18, Hunter College, a liberal arts college in Manhattan, was buzzing with the question of torture. Five youth from the NYC chapter of The World Can’t Wait and the NYC Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade--wearing orange jump suits and with black hoods over their heads--knelt in a cluster in the hallway outside the cafeteria. A crowd of 200 to 300 students quickly gathered.
For two years people have seen photos and videos (at least the few images that have seen the light of day) of anonymous, faceless men in prison suits and hoods, imprisoned at Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib, and elsewhere. Now these victims of U.S. torture and brutality were right in front of the students at Hunter.
One torture victim told people to grab the leash around his neck and asked,
“George Bush says I’m a bad guy--do you believe him? Do you feel better that I’m in Guantánamo? Do you want to be holding the leash? Because, as long as you do nothing, you’re holding the leash. They’re raping me and torturing me! What are you going to do?!” World Can't Wait organizers challenged the onlooking crowd: "You are complicit with torture, you are saying you are okay with Abu Ghraib, unless you are resisting and mobilizing others to drive this regime out of power. What will you be doing Nov. 2nd?"
The question of “what are you going to do?” became even more immediate when campus police attacked and arrested the protesters. One security guard grabbed the leashes of three youths in orange jump suits and hoods and pulled them together. The guards picked the youths up by the arms and dragged them away, and threatened to break the arms of one protester. One youth was punched in the groin while he was handcuffed behind his back.
World Can't Wait organizers challenged the students, "Would you stand by as they rounded up the Jews in Nazi Germany? They are rounding up people right in front of your face--why are you not opposing this?!" The room was sharply divided. Some complained that the protest was interrupting their day. Many others were stunned and challenged. Some were crying because they were so upset. And some spoke out against the arrest. Chants went up: “Let them go!” and “Torturers!”
The arrested youths were charged with misdemeanors. The Associated Press story on the action was picked up by Newsday, 1010 WINS (the largest NYC radio station), CBS, NBC, and the Metro.
That very same night PBS TV aired the documentary “The Torture Question,” which clearly reveals how the torture at Abu Ghraib was not the work of a “few bad apples” but the result of systematic government policy directed from the highest levels of the Bush regime. (Watch the film online at pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/torture/)
A message posted on the Youth and Student page at worldcantwait.org said:
“To those who stood by while torture protesters were hauled away by police at Hunter College:
“People go to Holocaust museums and ask 'how did this happen?' It becomes all too clear 'how it happened' when students walk by or stand there and allow the police to arrest people for dramatically illustrating the torture that is going on daily and legally at the hands of the Bush regime. That which you will not resist and mobilize to stop, you will learn—or be forced—to accept.
“While what happened at Hunter College was an enactment by World Can’t Wait organizers, the reality is that YOUR GOVERNMENT is torturing people in Guantánamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, and who knows where else. And when you walk by, when you decide that your career or your grades are more important than stopping this, you are complicit by your silence. It is unconscionable to go about our daily lives while such atrocities are committed in our names.
“To those who voiced opposition…
“…'There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part; you can't even passively take part, and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop.' –Mario Savio”