Walking up the Bowery late Wednesday afternoon en route to Cooper Union to teach my course “American Movies in the Age of Reagan,” I passed a procession of Occupy Wall Street student-debt protestors (accompanied by a phalanx of New York City police) to find Cooper Square filled with cops, as well as students who had earlier walked out of their classes in opposition to the administration’s announced plan for modifying Cooper’s unique non-tuition policy.
After I arrived in class I learned that a student of mine had been arrested for trying to do the very same thing. Not part of the demonstration, Sara Abruña apparently thought she had the right to walk from one Cooper building to another. Not so: She was thrown to the pavement, handcuffed, arrested, charged with “harassment, disorderly conduct and obstructing governmental administration,” and spent the night in custody. A cell phone document posted on YouTube (and embedded below) shows a pair of beefy cops dragging out and, joined by two more big guys, subduing a slightly-built, totally non-resisting young woman before a horrified crowd of fellow students.
Incidentally, the movie shown in class that night was “Wall Street” in which, among other things, the charismatic vulture capitalist Gordon Gekko explains to his protégé that one percent of the American population controls half the nation’s wealth: “You’re not naïve enough to think we’re living in a democracy?”