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Student protesters speak out against police force and media misrepresentation

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Demands

Students marched towards the administration building and shared their list of demands with Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Harry Hellenbrand. Photo Credit: Yazmin Cruz / News Editor

Hellenbr&Gomez

Harry Hellenbrand, provost and vice president of student affairs, and Jose Gomez, one of the students who was held in custody, shook hands after they read their demands to the administration.Photo Credit: Jacky Guerrero / Online Editor

The five students who were arrested during the March 4 demonstrations held a press conference denouncing the force used against them by police and the misrepresentation they received in the media.

The conference was held in front of the Oviatt Library where Anthony Ratcliff, a professor of Pan African studies and Beatrice Cortez, an associate professor of Central American studies, spoke in support of the students.

More than 60 people attended in support of the students arrested and of Associate Professor of Sociology and American Indian Studies, Karren Baird-Olson, 73, who was also taken into custody and who suffered a broken arm and multiple injuries during the protest on Reseda Boulevard and Prairie Street. Baird-Olson was taken to the hospital later that evening.

“As students were faced with police brutality they united,” Cortez said. “They stuck to each other and protected each other.”

Cortez said they also wanted to express their discontent with the statements made by several media outlets calling the protesters “unruly,” “not peaceful” and “violent.”

“The media should have more responsibility in the way they represent us,” Cortez said.

One of the students who was taken into custody was senior Jonnae Thompson, 22, a senior English major, who spoke at the conference.

“Some of you might say, ‘This isn’t the way to go about it,’” Thompson said. “I don’t know of any other way. Being quiet has gotten us exactly to the point where we are right now.”

Thompson said she was upset University President Jolene Koester had released a statement stating she was “disturbed and saddened by the less responsible actions of a few.”

“I guess she’s referring to us standing here,” Thompson said.

Justin Marks, 22, a senior double majoring in Pan African Studies and English, who was also taken into custody also spoke at the event and said he was disappointed with A.S. President Abel Pacheco because he had stated the event was not organized and did not have a leader.

“A.S. President Abel Pacheco should either step up or step down,” Marks said.

After the press conference students marched to University Hall where the protesters read their demands to William Watkins, acting vice president of student affairs and Harry Hellenbrand, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

Students also demanded an immediate apology from the Los Angeles Police Department and demanded justice for Baird-Olson and that no charges must be placed against her and her medical fees paid.

Along with a public forum with Koester and Pachecho, in order “for their grievances to be addressed and for actions to be taken in response.”

The CSUN administration stated that no punishment will be pursued against those that participated in the protests and those who were taken into custody, but once students step outside university jurisdiction they are faced with state and local laws, said Hellenbrand.

16 Comments

  1. o RLY Mar 10, 2010

    I just read in the Sundial that this protest was a STRIKE!!! A strike? So, Joseph Glatzer compared this rally to child labor strikes of the 19th century. I wonder how many people would have turned out had this demonstration been gone on “strike” in the weekend? Technically it should have started at 4 p.m. but I am well aware that most people have lives and wouldn’t stop to protest (no matter how much the hike would increase) had this been held on a weekend.
    As for misinterpretation of the media: what was accomplished by blocking streets. You know, blocking off the intersections of the tax payers that pay for the public school education system (since this rally wasn’t restricted to higher education, but K-12 grades as well). Or disrupting classes? Yeah, way to get your point across. Lets disrupt the one thing we are fighting to get more of since that seems extremely logical, despite the fact that the very little education being allowed is being minimized by disruptive protests that should be held on weekends in the first place.
    The only thing I can find that was outright unjust is the fact that professor Olsen had to wait 30 minutes for someone to actually call an ambulance- which comes from neglect from both protesters and the cops. I’m pretty sure the cops had a massive responsibility to call a bus for her, but none of the students had their cells on them to do it once they realized she was injured?
    The media has done nothing but smear this protest as nothing more than violent and pointless. Joseph Glatzer continued his response in the Daily Sundial with “asking nicely has gotten us nowhere.” How many people can actually say they have actually called the governor’s hot line (which is on display on his Web site) or mailed letters of concerned before they resorted to this massive waste? Seriously, peaceful demonstration won’t do anything if it isn’t tried first. Politicians have been impeached because people protested their distaste for the crap job they were doing. It works if enough people actually petition. No one has though, and instead thought “rally, yelling and terrible speeches made by inexperienced public speakers will get their attention.”

  2. Conor Lansdale Mar 9, 2010

    Open dialog is a privilege of democracy, but I think people need to give their names so that we don’t begin to stereotype of generalize whole groups because of 1 person’s remarks, especially when they leave a pen name that is as ambiguous as a college department or cause.

    Come give your opinions at the AS Senate’s Open Forum @2pm every Tuesday.

  3. CSUN student Mar 8, 2010

    The protesters can yell “peaceful protest” all they want, the intensity in the crowd was obviously increasing significantly during this brief footage. Police know that when the passion winds up past a certain point things are likely to blow out of control – it seemed to me this crowd was certainly headed that direction.

    You can put all the little annotations in the video you like to try to convey the story you want to tell; however this video does not show anyone being beaten, nor does it show any police officer acting inappropriately. I saw several cameras and cell phones being held up in the crowd, I assume someone got the “money shot”?

    1. Joseph Glatzer Mar 8, 2010

      Were you there? I was. I know what happened. It’s people like you, who consider students guilty until proven innocent, that are destroying all our hopes for education in the future.

  4. Dennis Mar 8, 2010

    It was embarrassing to see this so called “college students’ behaving like a bunch of thugs on TV. They should be ashamed for getting aggressive, cursing, pushing and shoving. The tv news kept showing how agitated they were. THis wasn’t a peaceful march at all. When you don’t respect the law that is what happens to you. I find it interesting that LAPD officers are assaulted in 2009 527 times and not one story in the media about that. You can tell anything from the video and I thought professors were told not to go to the rally.

    1. FOX Mar 8, 2010

      I agree 100% it wasn’t a peaceful march at all.

  5. FOX Mar 8, 2010

    Dr. Cortez do you have a TV? I saw your kids from CAS pushing the cops!

  6. I want to know Mar 8, 2010

    English major – Please tell me about Dr. Olsen’s political activism in the 70’s. Thank you.

    1. English Major Mar 15, 2010

      Dear I want to Know,
      I tried posting about a week ago in response to your comment. In 1972, Dr. Olsen was involved in the Trail of Broken Promises, where American Indian activists marched for the rights of American Indians (GOOD POLITICAL ACTIVISM) and then ended up taking over a Bureau of Indian Affairs building for over a week, ransacking, vandalizing, stealing the records of various treaties, setting back that bureau about 50 years, and doing 750k damage (which works out to about 1.5 million in today’s dollars). So she has good intentions, but if she was involved in the Trail of Broken Promises as she claims in her literature (which I tried posting the link for and couldn’t) then that is an example of BAD POLITICAL ACTIVISM.

      As for 1976, she was involved in another protest. During that protest she shoved her own daughter to the ground to “protect her.” She herself received bruises when she fell and/or was pushed to the ground. The language she uses during the piece, however, shows she has a hostility towards authority. At one point she is handcuffed, but they rather than use metal cuffs, they use plastic ones, which she proceeds to remove from herself as well as her fellow protesters.

      Long story short, while it is very unfortunate that Dr. Olsen was injured. But she knew the risks of this protest from past experience. I would not stand in the middle of a freeway or jump off a bridge, because I know I would get hurt. Dr. Olsen INTENTIONALLY put herself in harms way, knowing from past experience what would happen, possibly in order to sue the University and/or police, thereby bringing about even less money for student education.

      If you need my sources, just google: Dr. Baird-Olsen and American Indian Movement. Most of my information is from a piece she wrote about the two events.

  7. JJGB Mar 6, 2010

    Dr. Olsen is going through surgery after a police officer broke her arm. She is doing fine… I talked to her and this were her words “they can brake my arm, but they will never brake my spirit and the pirit of the students”. Thanks Dr. Olsen and to everyone that showed-up to the march because we as students are powerful and undistructable. Please, keep Dr. Olsen in prayer.

    FTP!!!!!

    1. English Major Mar 6, 2010

      JJGB, this is the danger of attending rallies rather than class.

      1) “THESE” were her words.
      2) can “BREAK”
      3) Spirit, not pirit
      4) . goes before the ” not after.
      5) Showed up does not require a hyphen.
      6)indestructible, not undistructable.

      I know your education isn’t important to you, but when you disrupt my education, I get upset.

      1. Wow… “English Major” out of everything that was presented, the only thing you noticed was grammar errors versus the bigger picture? Seriously?!?! We know for a fact you weren’t out there speaking your voice and trying to be heard. Yes, you should be upset your education is being disrupted by the numerous Furlough Days our professors are forced to take and the $17 Billion dollar budget cuts which have occurred thus far. Obliviously, we can see that JJGB’s education is truly important to them because they are attempting to make a change unlike you whom claim your education is of great importance, hiding behind your dictionary! Did you proofread yourself? Because from what I see it is you who doesn’t take your education seriously.

      2. JJGB Mar 6, 2010

        English Major, thank you for correcting my grammatical errors. I am going to take my time so it will be clear for you that I do CARE FOR MY EDUCATION. Your grammatical error:

        1. isn’t = is not

        Take care English major, I will keep walking-out and protesting so your education will not be disrupt in the future. CSUN Six

        1. English Major Mar 6, 2010

          In reference to Fight for Our Rights, yes I am annoyed by furloughs. However, as I’m in mostly 400 and 500 level classes, a furlough just means more time writing papers, and such. If I drive all the way out to Northridge for class, I expect to sit through a nice peaceful lecture, not hear pots and pans banging for two hours.

          As to JJGB, did you really just claim that “isn’t” is grammatically incorrect? I guess FfoR is correct in that the budget cuts have had a clearly severe effect on our student body.

          And for both of you, I recommend reading up on Dr. Olsen’s political activism, especially about what she did in 1972 and 1976. If you know about those, I will quite impressed.

          1. Traveler Mar 14, 2010

            Dr. Karren Baird-Olson, born and raised in a privileged middle class family and community, has spent all her adult life fighting for the civil rights of all minorities: women, children, people of color, the differently abled, and the poor. Her fight has been on all fronts. She has gone the “legal” route of petitioning, calling & writing letters to legislators and government administrators. She has fought on the academic front with her research, writing and teaching tolerance and the need to look beyond mainstream interpretations of history. She has also stepped into the front lines in physical protests, encouraging those around her to remain peaceful and nonresistant. On March 4 she was doing just that. She had volunteered to stay with the students to help keep them calm in the face of an increasingly hostile police advance.

            What ever your views about the event on March 4 there was no apparent reason for a police officer to physically attack a 5 foot 3 inch white haired elderly woman who was walking away from them (this can clearly be seen in several videos). Could her history of political activism be the reason?

  8. treedom Mar 5, 2010

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ym6mmuVgLn0

    Police clubbing my friend’s grandmother. Now in hospital with broken arm. Who’s unruly?

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