Seven Students Arrested at Emory during Tent City Stand-off
(APN) DEKALB COUNTY — Seven students were arrested during a stand-off with the Emory University administration tonight, Monday, April 25, 2011, Atlanta Progressive News has learned.
Last week, APN reported that 150 students protested at Emory regarding its contract with Sodexo to operate its cafeterias. During that protest, two dozen students occupied the Administration Building, but they left the building after being threatened with arrest and after being promised a meeting with the University’s President.
That meeting, which took place the following day at 5pm, was not fruitful, Alex Zavell, 20, an Emory sophomore majoring in Political Science, told APN in an interview.
The University insists it undertook an investigation of students’ claims that Sodexo was mistreating cafeteria workers on Emory’s campus and found no evidence of any problem, Zavell said. Yet, Zavell insists that University has failed to even hear what the problems are and has not explained what its so-called investigation consisted of.
Since the protest last week, the students erected a Tent City on the University quad outside the Administration building.
“At 630pm, students who were a part of the Tent City we set up on Wednesday and maintained constant peaceful presence… the Vice President came and delivered a notice of policy of the quad that said there needed to be a reservation if there needed to be events,” Zavell said.
“A lawyer for our group looked at it and said the language of the policy did not apply to what we’re doing,” Zavell said.
“The Administration forcibly removed tents and signs. The grounds crew ordered by the Administration were told to start removing tents,” Zavell said.
“In response, three tents were placed in a tight circle and students sat in them. Police backed off for about a half hour,” Zavell said.
“John Ford, at that point came and told students they would be arrested if they remained in the tent,” Zavell said.
“After which, the Emory police and Dekalb police came and arrested seven students who were sitting in the tent,” Zavell said.
According to Zavell, the seven students are: Laura Emiko Soltis, an Emory fifth year graduate student in interdisciplinary studies; Roger Sikes, Emory second year graduate student in Public Health; Andrea Nicholls, Emory second year graduate student in Public Health; Joseph Diaz, Emory first year graduate student in Philosophy; Christopher Wells, undergraduate studying Film at Georgia State University; Amariah Love, an undergraduate studying Women’s Studies at GSU; and Michael Iannocone, a graduate student from Georgia Tech in Computer Science.
“The Administration has consistently evaded dialogue, refused to acknowledge the existence of the problem on our campus, and responded with force in the face of peaceful student protest,” Zavell said.
“I believe these actions fly in the face of Emory’s mission statement and student values to create knowledge in the service of humanity, social responsibility, courageous inquiry, and ethical engagement,” Zavell said.
The students were arrested at about 8pm, and Zavell said he believed the charges were for criminal trespassing, based on threats made by Administration prior to the arrests.
“Students were handcuffed with zip-tie handcuffs and dragged out by police officers,” Zavell said.
(END / 2011)