Kingsborough security placed knee on student’s back, sparking protest


CUNY Kingsborugh Community College

Alexandra Adelina Nita, Graphics Editor

CUNY students and faculty protested at Kingsborough Community College on Nov. 10 after campus security physically restrained a student for allegedly intervening when a white student used racial slurs toward a Black student. Protestors and supporters are calling for greater accountability from the administration.

“On Thursday I saw no real reason to think why things would change at all at Kingsborough without us collectively organizing and raising awareness about this,”  College of Staten Island student senator and electrical engineering major Petra Gregory, 27, said over Zoom.

Gregory, whose pronouns are they and them, has previously been involved with student activism centered around prison and police abolition.

They said they learned about the protest, which was live streamed, in advance from both Kingsborough students and adjuncts who had been sent an email about the inciting incident by PSC-CUNY.

Gregory said that their impression of the Kingsborough students protesting was that “there was a clear understanding of resilience and community and solidarity between them that despite these intimidation tactics they were still going to do what they can to fight back against the position the administration has taken.”

Students at Kingsborough told News 12 that they saw a campus security officer place a knee on the restrained student’s back. The college’s anti-racism club KCC Common Ground, who organized the protest, identified the restrained student as one of their members and shared a video of the aftermath in which bystanders expressed shock at the fact that four officers were involved and said the student was trying to walk away.

KCC Common Ground also released a statement that criticized the response by specific members of the administration and framed the incident as part of a larger issue.

“This attack is part of a pattern of racist police terror around the U.S. from the murders of George Floyd to Brianna Taylor and too many other names, racist police harassment and arrests like the Rodwell-Spivey brothers, and part of the racist system that KCC Common Ground was created to fight!” the statement said.

Gregory leveled further criticism at Kingsborough, claiming it prohibited students from distributing flyers about the incident, an allegation repeated in an open letter to its president by the Graduate Chapter of the PSC listing unanswered questions its members had. Gregory also said Kingsborough restricted campus access to students from other CUNY colleges the day the protest was scheduled.

“That’s really concerning, no matter what your stance on campus policing is. The idea that we can’t even have a conversation about this on campus is just awful”, they said.

Gregory said Kingsborough should make sure no charges are brought against the restrained student, fire the officer who restrained him, penalize the white student who used racial slurs and publish a solidarity statement.

They also called for CUNY as a whole to shift the responsibility of student safety away from campus police and the NYPD—which has had a non-legally binding agreement with CUNY since 1992—and toward mental health professionals trained in nonviolent de-escalation.

Between 2019 and 2020, nearly 90 % of New York City public school students restrained by the NYPD were children of color.

Addressing all CUNY students, Gregory said “I would just like them to know that our campus peace officers are ultimately part of a system that isn’t your friend.”

When contacted for an interview, Kingsborough’s VP of Communications and Marketing Cheryl Todmann shared a written statement.

“Kingsborough Community College is committed to a diverse and inclusive community where students, faculty and staff feel safe, welcome, and free to pursue their studies and their work,” she wrote. “We have zero tolerance for discrimination and misconduct of any kind, and allegations of this kind are taken very seriously. The College is conducting an investigation. Have a Happy Thanksgiving.”

The PSC did not respond to request for comment.