The Guillermo Morales/Assata Shakur Community and Student Center, a student and community space on the City College of New York campus, was shut down without notice yesterday. The college intends to appropriate the space for an expansion of its Career and Professional Development Institute.
The Morales/Shakur Center is housed on the third floor of the CCNY North Academic Center (NAC). It was created in 1989 as part of a negotiated agreement between students and administrators after an activist takeover of that building.
According to a report from The Meridian, the Lehman College student newspaper, the Morales/Shakur Center was cleared out by campus police yesterday morning. The entire NAC, including the CCNY campus library, was locked down during the eviction, and one alumnus who attempted to intervene was arrested as the officers removed the contents of the space.
In a videotaped interview yesterday afternoon, Center director and CCNY student Alyssia Osorio said she had been given no notice of the center’s closing, and only learned about it from fellow students after the fact.
Students were prevented from entering the library for five hours yesterday afternoon. The campus library is traditionally open 24 hours a day during midterm week.
A statement yesterday night from CCNY student activists declared that the Morales/Shakur Center
“has been an invaluable space for community groups to meet on campus, for students to connect with their political elders, and for movement histories to be retained and shared in Harlem. The Center has provided a space for students to organize around a number of issues recently, including the addition of gender identity into the school’s anti-discrimination policy, and the combating of rape culture at City College. The closure of this space is a serious assault on our right as students to organize and cultivate community.”
There will be a press conference and action in support of the Center at City College at 12:30 this afternoon.
The Morales/Shakur Center has come under attack in the past for both its de facto independence from CCNY and its name. Guillermo Morales was a leader of the Puerto Rican independence group FALN, and was linked to a number of FALN bombings in the 1970s. He was convicted of weapons charges in New York City after he was badly wounded in accidential explosion in 1978, but escaped from custody and now lives in Cuba. Assata Shakur is a former member of the Black Panther Party who herself escaped to Cuba after a murder conviction in 1977.
Both Morales and Shakur are CCNY alumni.