“As the Gaza Solidarity Encampments continue to grow on college campuses across the United States, I commend the masses of brave student protesters who are in-line with countless movements against war and genocide that precede their time. As a CUNY alum, I, too, exercised my right to freedom of speech and protest with peers on campus grounds, particularly to speak out against the post-9/11 Muslim surveillance program and how NYPD informants infiltrated CUNY campuses.

As students stand up for civil rights, divestment from Israel, and a permanent ceasefire, the Mayor’s directive to have the NYPD raid Columbia University and CCNY in riot gear is reckless and wrong. The Mayor and the NYPD have also failed to present evidence as to why this disproportionate police presence and mass student arrests were necessary. Attempts to repress and frighten students and faculty by campus administrators to our Mayor have only brought more chaos and has actually made any act of protest unsafe, which is antithetical to our American values.

I implore leaders and electeds to look to Brown University, among others, which have democratically engaged students and faculty on the protest demands instead of turning to intimidation tactics and arrests by the police. University presidents must not abdicate their responsibility to work with students through constructive dialogue without carceral ultimatums. Whether the demands are met immediately or not, we should not cede these vital conversations to violence.

While these very institutions often praise their history of student-led protests and civil disobedience, they are now failing to meet the moment before them. Police brutality will not intimidate us. History will look kindly upon the student-leaders who have invigorated the broader movement for peace.”