Thursday, November 27, 2014

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Occupy Wall Street Protesters Take On CUNY Tuition Hikes

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Students and Occupy Wall Street protesters took a stand against schools' rising tuition on Monday, first at CUNY's Baruch College and then at the New School.

First, more than 100 students from the City University of New York, New York University and the New School and Occupy Wall Street activists protested by Baruch College to express objections to CUNY's proposed tuition hikes.

CUNY students will have to pay an additional $300 a year, over the next four years.

The demonstrators said they were kicked out of a public meeting of the CUNY board of trustees, but CUNY officials said only the 95 people who signed up in advance could speak at the hearing.

According to university officials, protesters were asked twice to leave the lobby or go to an overflow room with video of the hearing, and when they refused it created a public safety hazard.

Outside the hearing, the situation got heated and CUNY officers arrested 15 protesters.

One officer was taken to the hospital for chest pains and two others had minor injuries.

"There's been plenty of exercise of free speech tonight, both on the street and in the room, but there comes a point where if our students can't attend the classes that they need to get, that's something that's going beyond the opportunity of free speech," said CUNY spokesman Michael Arena.

"I'm already in debt a lot, and I'd rather be a little bit less in debt when I'm done," said a student. "My college really means a lot to me and I want to graduate and I want to get an education. I love school, but I don't think it should have to cost me many, many years of paying it back."

CUNY officials said their schools have cheaper tuition than SUNY schools, and that six out of 10 full-time CUNY students get need-based free tuition.

The demonstrators then moved to a New School building on Fifth Avenue near 14th Street by the early evening, and hung banners from the building's windows.

New School officials said that they support free expression and the right to protest.

"Occupy" Couple Files Civil Rights Lawsuit Against City

Meanwhile, a couple arrested at a Greenwich Village bank where an Occupy Wall Street protest was taking place last month has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city.

The lawyer for the couple, Ron Kuby, said 23-year-old Heather Carpenter was handcuffed at a Citibank branch on October 15 after she had closed her account.

Kuby said Carpenter's fiance, Julio Jose Jimenez-Artunduaga, was also dragged into the vestibule of the bank, where he was choked, assaulted and arrested.

The two said they had been marching with others to protest against big banks.

Charges against Jimenez-Artunduaga have been dismissed and Carpenter's charges are expected to be dismissed.

Kuby said his clients' Fourth Amendment rights were violated.

"I recognize that Citibank wants to do everything it can to keep its customers, but arresting people who close their accounts strikes me as a bit much, said Kuby.

"My intent was just to close my account and leave, and that's what I did. And I got arrested anyway," said Carpenter.

The city's Law Department says it will review the case.

Deadline To Pick Up Zuccotti Park Property Nears

Occupy Wall Street protesters have through Tuesday to pick up belongings that were taken away by police during last week's cleanup of Zuccotti Park.

Property pickup will be available at the Sanitation Department garage on West 56th Street between 11th and 12th Avenues from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday.

Those claiming items will need valid photo ID and will have to provide proof of ownership.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the items that are not picked up will be thrown out because the city does not have a place to store them.

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