Hundreds of professors at the City University of New York and elsewhere are admirably calling for charges to be dropped against six students arrested Tuesday during a protest against former CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus. The academics are also calling for Petraeus to resign from his teaching post at CUNY.

A video of an arrest shows a man detained by the NYPD being punched in the back by what appears to be a plainclothes officer:

Sandor John, adjunct professor of Latin American history at CUNY’s Hunter College, was among those who reportedly witnessed some of the arrests on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

“I saw one of the students who was arrested, a young man, being held face down on the ground by police; he was completely immobilized, and then a plainclothes officer knelt down and repeatedly punched him hard in the lower back, in the kidney area,” The Guardian quoted him as saying.

Petraeus began his career as an adjunct professor this month. The six students were detained as they demonstrated outside a fundraiser Petraeus was attending. They were charged Wednesday night with multiple offenses, including disorderly conduct, riot, resisting arrest and obstruction of governmental administration, The Guardian reports.

A statement signed by more than 300 academics reads:

“As graduate students and educators of CUNY, we express our outrage at the violent and unprovoked actions by the NYPD against CUNY students peacefully protesting the appointment of war criminal David Petraeus as a lecturer at the Macaulay Honors College. We deplore the use of violence and brutal tactics against CUNY students and faculty who were protesting outside the college. It is unacceptable for the university to allow the police to violently arrest students.”

The statement concluded: “We call on CUNY to terminate Petraeus’ appointment and to ask for the charges against these students to be dropped immediately.”

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

The Guardian:

Petraeus was set to earn $200,000 for teaching a three-hours-a-week course titled “Are We On the Threshold of the North American Decade?” This was reduced to $150,000 after uproar over his wage, before Petraeus and CUNY agreed it would be reduced to a nominal $1, in order “to remove money as a point of controversy”.

A statement from the Ad Hoc Committee Against the Militarization of CUNY, which is organising the protests, said in a statement: “A broad range of CUNY students, faculty and staff members have been carrying out a campaign of ‘protest and exposure’ against the Board of Trustees’ appointment of Petraeus, whose documented actions as Iraq/Afghanistan war commander and CIA chief include drone attack supon civilians, and the creation of torture centers and death squads.”

Petraeus’s first class was on Monday 9 September. Afterwards, a group of students heckled him as he walked down a Manhattan street. A video of the event went viral, although the protesters, who could be heard berating Petraeus as a “piece of shit”, were criticised in some quarters for the aggressive nature of their demonstration.

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