Student protesters speak out against police force and media misrepresentation

Yazmin Cruz

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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.