Student pepper sprayed and two arrested at City College protest UPDATED

Photo courtesy of AFT 2121

[Update Friday, 1:32pm: The Guardian published an updated post on the status of the two detained student protesters, who were later released, here:]

One student protester was pepper sprayed, and others hit with batons, tackled, and arrested today at the City College of San Francisco’s main campus. Over 200 students were demanding the resignation of Special Trustee Robert Agrella, tasked by the state authorities with saving the college, usurping the authority of its locally elected Board of Trustees.

[Update 8:20pm: The Sheriff's Department confirmed two students are in custody, but could not confirm if SFPD or City College police made the arrest. Witnesses confirmed that the first student, Otto Pippenger, was pulled down to the pavement by multiple officers. While he was on his stomach an officer punched him in the back of head, slamming his forehead into the concrete, according to the account of Alex Emslie, a reporter on the scene. The second student, Dimitrios Philliou, was driven away in an ambulance.]

“Some students were pepper sprayed, some were clubbed,” City College Student Trustee Shanell Williams told the Guardian. “This is unacceptable, and really fucked up.” 

City College faculty and union president Alisa Messer told us there are now over a dozen students in Conlan Hall, the administrative building in City College’s main campus, which also houses Argella’s office. The students intend on camping all night if they have to, they said. 

There are also students outside the public building who are giving support, Messer told us, adding that the situation got out of hand quickly.

“It got pretty rough, pretty quick. Students pushed their way into Conlan Hall and police were quick to get their sticks out. I was pushed around,” she said. “I think this is clearly one of those situations where police presence escalated, rather than de-escalated the situation”

The SFPD declined to comment on the incident, saying the matter was in the jurisdiction of the CCSF Police Department, who are sworn officers. The City College police haven’t yet returned our calls, but we’ll update this post if and when they do. It is also unclear which police pepper sprayed students: the City College police, or SFPD cops providing mutual aid. 

The Sheriff’s Department said it did not have the students in custody, yet. “We don’t have these gentlemen in our custody,” said SFSD spokesperson Kathy Gorwood. [UPDATE 5:45pm: Gorwood confirmed that one student, Otto Pippenger, was booked shortly after 4:30pm on two misdemeanor charges: resisting arrest and battery on emergency personnel, with bail set at $23,000, after he was examined by a nurse and found to not need medical treatment. Gorwood said Philliou had not been booked.] 

City College of San Francisco was told by its accreditors, the ACCJC, that it would lose its accreditation by this summer -- a move that would force the school to close. The school and its accreditors are mired in legal battles which may decide the fate of City College of San Francisco.

A student shortly after the incident recalls what happened.

In the midst of the conflict stands Agrella, a controversial figure in the City College community. Some students and faculty from the Save CCSF Coalition and American Federation of Teachers Local 2121 say that the special trustee is heeding the whims of the accreditors and ceding the fight for local control. The accreditors’ decision was wrong about City College, they say, and based on fiscal matters over educational ones. 

Others, including Mayor Ed Lee, support the special trustee and say he is the best hope to get City College back in line. Yet Argella replaced the college’s democratically elected Board of Trustees, which makes policy decisions for the college. Now there are no public meetings, and no public comment, on decisions made by the special trustee.

He does, however, hold “meetings” in the form of email. He solicits emails from the community, which he deems “public comment.” This is farcical to some, leading Sup. David Campos to call for a hearing tomorrow at City Hall to look into restoring the Board of Trustees.

[UPDATE 5:20pm: Save CCSF Coalition has issued the following statement:

CCSF Students Occupy Admin Building Demanding Special Trustee Step Down

Thirty City College of San Francisco students have entered the administration building at the Ocean Campus and are holding a sit-in to protest the lack of democracy at the college and the new student payment policy.

The students are demanding that the Special Trustee With Extraordinary Powers (STWEP), Robert Agrella, step down. Ever since the democratically elected Board of Trustees were stripped of their powers students, faculty and staff have endured a series of destructive decisions and policies. One such policy the students are demanding be reversed is the aggressive payment policy that has forced many students out of school.

Itzel Calvo, an documented student, said, "I was not able to enroll in classes this semester unless I paid thousands of dollars in tuition up front, even before the classes started. I can't afford that."

Lalo Gonzalez, a student senator, said, "The reign of this STWEP has been disastrous. Classes were cut that students needed and the diversity departments are in danger."

Police denied students entry to the building and after a skirmish at the doors of Conlan Administration Building, 30 students entered. One student was pepper sprayed and taken by ambulance to the hospital.

They intend to continue their sit-in until the STWEP leaves and the payment policy is reversed.]

[UPDATE 6:17pm: After City College student Otto Pippenger was arrested and booked following a protest at the college's main campus, the faculty union and Pippenger's mother scrambled to help.

His mother, Heidi Alletzhauser, told the Guardian "Otto’s is in jail, so of course I am upset. I do not know the full extent of what transpired but it appeared the situation escalated very quickly, and perhaps those involved were operating at a fight-or-flight level. I am worried about my son and the other boy who was arrested, and what this means for their futures."

She said she was not able to get Pippenger out of detention tonight, but was told if she brought him to a judge tomorrow he may possibly be released on his own recognizance. 

"If not, we could try for bail tomorrow," she said. His bail is set at $23,000, and Philliou's bail is set to $6,000, the Sheriff's Department confirmed. Philliou's charges are resisting arrest, and returning to school campus, according to the Sheriff's Department, perhaps indicating he was ordered to leave and then came back.

In the meantime, City College's faculty union, the AFT 2121, was busy making phone calls to see if they could raise money for Pippenger's release, if needed. 

"Two were arrested," CCSF Chief of Police Andre Barnes told us. He could not confirm if the second student, Dimitrious Philliou, was in General Hospital.

Reporter Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez is currently at a City College planning meeting waiting to speak to Chancellor Arthur Q. Tyler. We will update this post as more information is obtained.]



I am comfortable with the measured and nuanced response.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 13, 2014 @ 4:08 pm

Actually, it was peaceful until the SFPD pulled up. They came running into the group with batons drawn. They hit and shoved students wihtout assessing the situation. Kind of like the way you commented with knowing what happened.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 13, 2014 @ 7:58 pm

Where does SF get these officers who are holding batons like baseball bats ready to bash the heads of student protesters? They're young students. STUDENTS! And they're non-violent protesters. PROTESTERS.

Since the police are completely ineffective in stopping the car carnage against peds and bike riders, and since the police have very poor statistics solving VIOLENT crimes, it looks like the only thing they know how to do is bash students and non-violent protesters. Despicable.

The city has become a joke, but I'm sure it's all part of Mayor Lee's plan to rid the city of protesters and tenants so he can sell the city's real estate to the wealthy tech industry. Ed Lee and the SF government bureaucracy are destroying the city. Anyone who votes for any of them or their proposals is part of the evil junta to rid the city of its charm, diversity and progressivism.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 13, 2014 @ 8:47 pm

expect the police to use as much force as needed to remove you.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 14, 2014 @ 6:21 am

who was all for the protesters in Ukraine, who not only illegally occupied buildings, but set them on fire with people inside?

You were all for it as long as it's in Ukraine.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 14, 2014 @ 7:06 pm

Damn Straight. ACAB ACAB ACAB

Posted by Guest on Mar. 14, 2014 @ 1:32 pm

According to the video I saw, the students were not having a peaceful protest. As opposed to having a peaceful protest and rally outside the building, they began to force themselves in. Many of the protestors began to get right in the officers' faces, screaming, and backing them down to where their backs were against the building. That is not a peaceful protest, that is antagonistic.

Peaceful protestors do not scream at officers, backing them down in an attempt to enter a building, and get nose-to-nose with them and stick their fingers in their faces. That, again, is antagonistic. The officers actions, while unpleasant, were entirely measured in response to the escalating protest.

They did not run in with batons drawn. They were being backed down by a large, increasingly agitated crowd, and took action only when the protestors began to force their way in to the building. The specific student who was pushed down in the video had his hand to an officer's face. That is threat enough to push him down and back the rest of the protestors off to ensure that it doesn't escalate to full-on violence.

Nothing the officers did was out-of-line, rash, or without reason. Watch the video if you'd like to make an informed, measured response.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 13, 2014 @ 11:44 pm

Actually true.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 17, 2014 @ 2:18 pm

Can we just close the damn abortion already?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 13, 2014 @ 4:12 pm

Silly person - trolls are so obvious. Do you just not know how highly rated CCSF is, or are you a liar? Those are the only options. As for the abortion comment - how elegant and intelligent you sound... as well-spoken as a paid thug could be, I suppose.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 13, 2014 @ 8:01 pm
Posted by Guest on Mar. 14, 2014 @ 6:22 am

Can someone please explain to me that whenever someone posts something that goes against the progressive dogma they always scream that the poster is paid to do so? Say you want the Warriors stadium? Paid poster. Don't like the homeless fouling up the library? Paid poster. Like cops? Paid poster (and a cop boot licker). Want more housing built? Paid poster. Think the mayor is doing a decent job? Paid poster. Are progressives that insecure about their stances that they think that anyone who opposes them have to be paid?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 14, 2014 @ 2:53 pm

that they genuinely cannot come up with a reason why anyone would disagree with them.

Which is why, when you refute them, they scream "troll" or "paid poster" or "fascist" or whatever cheap label comes to their dimwitted mind.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 14, 2014 @ 3:14 pm

The ONE student who was pepper sprayed is named Dimitrious Ghilliou. The same person in the video you posted. Police tried to gain control of the situation too quickly and it escalated a bit out of hand. By the time I arrived all I witnessed was frustration and a strong-hold over a public building by a repressive regime.

Agrella needs to go!

Posted by Guest on Mar. 13, 2014 @ 4:33 pm

take control of it and stop people from working.

Try that in a library, courtroom, city hall or any other government building and you'd get the same appropriate response.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 13, 2014 @ 4:53 pm

It is a public institution. the board no longer exists for all intents and purposes. the administration cries "poor", cuts money to teachers, cuts classes, then hires six-figure administrators who hire more six-figure administrators.

To all of you who cry "close it down" - where do you think your maids and cooks will learn to speak English?

Posted by SF'er on Mar. 13, 2014 @ 5:27 pm

have lived in, or is taught informally through friends, family or by volunteers.

There is no need to maintain a vast failing educational institution just so my maid can understand me slightly more quickly.

CCSF is a disaster and the poor thing needs to be put to sleep.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 13, 2014 @ 5:39 pm

So, where are you from?

Posted by SF'er on Mar. 13, 2014 @ 10:08 pm
Posted by Guest on Mar. 14, 2014 @ 6:22 am

So, City College supposedly exists to teach English to some people's maids and cooks? You really want to go there? Even though you claim to support the school your comment sounds like some racist crap an extremist right wing party leader might spout.

Ostensibly, the college exists to provide higher education to the residents of San Francisco. If the only educational mission it can aspire to is to teach ESL classes to individuals so they can become somebody's personal servant, then that is a sorry educational mission indeed.

Posted by Chris on Mar. 13, 2014 @ 11:10 pm

CCSF shouldn't be shut down?

If the students cannot even control their behavior, then why should we subsidize this monstrosity?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 13, 2014 @ 5:40 pm

to pay their $500 a semester tuition bills. Or that they're now barred from accessing their transcripts if they haven't paid their overdue bills. Draconian shit.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 13, 2014 @ 6:52 pm

I'm sorry, but wasn't it the democratically-elected Board of Trustees that got CCSF into this mess with it's inability to keep the college solvent? I find it hard to imagine that restoring a body that can't willingly make financial decisions for the benefit of their students will all the sudden be a panacea to the college's chronic issues...

Posted by Guest on Mar. 13, 2014 @ 6:31 pm

We want competent pragmatic people - not ideologs and activists

Posted by Guest on Mar. 13, 2014 @ 6:49 pm

There's a trend in many "democracies" now, that when people elect the wrong people (that is to say those who disagree with the bankers), the bankers just impose a government of "technocrats." Because we need "pragmatists" who impose austerity, not "ideologues" who actually serve the people.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 13, 2014 @ 9:15 pm

Some cities elect their fire chief? Why? Surely you want someone who knows how to put out fires and not someone with an agenda.

By the same argument, I have no idea why we elect judges, the sheriff and various other specialist or technical jobs.

Should we vote on who does your job?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 14, 2014 @ 6:24 am

If I'm not a public official, then no. But if I am, it's important that I be accountable to the public. San Francisco has generally done pretty well electing its representatives. I don't always agree with who we elect, but the alternative is worse.

We have an elected sheriff and an appointed police chief. And there's a big difference in the culture of the sheriff's department and the PD. You almost never hear of the kinds of abuse rampant in the SFPD from the sheriff's department.

The judges we elect are, while just as qualified, much more representative of the community than the ones the governor appoints.

The lack of democratic accountability does not guarantee competence. Quite the opposite I would say.

We briefly saw what kind of public defender we get when the office is appointed. I think everyone, right and left, would now agree that the people made a better choice than Willie Brown.

Or take the DA. We now have the most incompetent, most unqualified DA we have had in living memory. And that's because it was a political appointment.

And that happens a lot. It's insulting to the electorate to say voters can't judge competence. They can and they do, and many times they do a better job than public officials who appoint people for political reasons.

It's no different with City College. City College is supposed to serve the students and the community. The governance of City College should therefore be accountable to the students and the community.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 14, 2014 @ 7:52 am

other entity or enterprise. You have to have a clear chain of command. If you elect people under the mayor/CEO then you break that chain of command. The Mayor can say X is a priority and an elected underling can instead decide that it is Y.

Separation of powers is achieved by having a legislature (BofS) independant of the mayor. But if every department head were elected, then we'd have something close to anarchy. Ultimately there would be no point in having a mayor.

99% of the sheriff's job is technical and following rules. Even a left-wing ideolog like Ross cannot stop evictions even though he disagrees with him. He has to confine those whom the police and the courts tell him to. Even if he hadn't self-destructed by beating his wife, he'd still have no real authority. It's a pointless election.

But it gets even worse if we need a ballot on every building. It's insanity - the point of elections is to free us from making endless trivial decisions, especially sicne most of us are not qualified to make such decisions and tend to do so on trivial grounds.

Appointees are appointed or fired by someone we elect. That should be enough.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 14, 2014 @ 8:22 am

It's not a military dictatorship either. So we don't need a CEO, or a generalissimo at the head of some "chain of command."

What we need are people who are in office to serve and represent all of us, and that is best achieved by democratic institutions.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 14, 2014 @ 7:11 pm

command and control.

If each of the mayor's department heads is elected and therefore independant of the mayor, then the mayor has no power tot ell them what to do. All he can do is withhold money from them in the budget, and even then he needs the Supes to go along.

Total democracy is anarchy. And successful cities have powerful leaders.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 17, 2014 @ 7:18 am

New Jersey, one of the most corrupt states in the union, allows the Governor to appoint all major department heads that are elected in every other state, including the only appointed Attorney General in the nation.

Total control leads to authoritarianism and corruption. Democratic control is the sanitizing sunshine that wards off corrupting influences. And I'm not talking democratic control involving elections once every four years. No, whenever a big choice needs to be made, snap elections should be called and the will of the people should be brought to bear to solve the problem. This is how Europe was able to abandon military entanglements in Iraq and Afghanistan when the people wanted, not when the electoral schedule permitted.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 17, 2014 @ 7:39 am

Many successful social democracies have top-down centrist governments and yet score much higher than the US.

When leadership is not possible because the folks under you feel that they can ignore your mandates then government becomes paralyzed.

Referring every decision to the people defeats the entire purpose of having elevcted leaders.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 17, 2014 @ 9:44 am

Did you miss the last election? The current DA's name was on the ballot, and he was confirmed by a vote of the people.

Posted by Chris on Mar. 14, 2014 @ 8:38 am
Posted by Guest on Mar. 14, 2014 @ 8:57 am

you're generally more thoughtful than to post such simple-minded tropes. I think we both understand that the power of incumbency, backed up by money and corporate media, means a lot. That's how worthless lackeys like Ed Lee, Carmen Chu, Gavin Newsom, Katy Tang, and George Gascon go from being nobodies to elected officials who are difficult to unseat. I mean, this is a guy who stagnated in cop middle management for years and years until he was plucked out and put in charge of the whole police force, and then DA. By the time the election rolls around, nobody knows the guy never even got a law degree from an accredited law school. If the media did their job, the fact that he's totally unqualified may have become an issue. But who's going to talk about it? The Chronicle? KTVU? Please.

I never said democracy is perfect. And this sorry spectacle illustrates the flaws. But the answer is more democracy, not less. Let's have a law that says any vacancy has to be filled by election, rather than open up more offices to be appointed by politicians who are interested in rewarding their buddies and preserving their power.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 14, 2014 @ 7:23 pm

Incompetent? You sould have lived here when Terence Hallinan was DA!

City College has had a serious problem with defining its' mission. It has tried to be everything for everybody, and got itself into this financial mess by having politicians on the board who were busy looking for their next political job, instead of watching the store. The big gripe I hear is that the new ADMIN wants to collect tuition when a student registers for class. WTF?

Posted by Richmondman on Mar. 14, 2014 @ 10:54 am

Terence Hallinan was the best DA we ever had. He spearheaded a lot of innovative programs for offenders, and crime went down dramatically during his tenure. What he was incompetent at, was campaigning. They sat on FBI statistics showing that both overall crime and violent crime dropped precipitously during his years, more than any other county in California. Instead, they ran pieces on the west side of the city touting him as "the most progressive DA in America." I remember having conversations with his campaign saying, "Wait. You want to run *this* in the Richmond? What the hell are you guys thinking?" "It's all we have right now." Instead, they should've been running pieces touting the FBI statistics and letting people know he's the most *effective* DA in America.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 14, 2014 @ 7:03 pm

Where do these respondents come from? CCSF is one of the most famous institutions in the US, host to many great scholars and teachers in the past. Shame on those who would connive in its closing. Shades of the bad days of UC Berkeley and the pig Ronald Reagan. Students must resist, not simply in the name of academic freedom but academic history in the US.

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Posted by cheat Android on Jul. 18, 2014 @ 8:08 am

As a fellow educator in California I'm outraged by your police officer's brutal attack on student protestors.

Terminate and prosecute the officers involved. You may also need a new chief of police, depending on their response.

This kind of stuff is unacceptable at any level of the state higher ed system.

Jon Taylor
Professor, CSUF

Posted by JonTaylor on Mar. 14, 2014 @ 12:01 am

Keeping a place of business open and functioning

Posted by Guest on Mar. 14, 2014 @ 6:25 am

Actually, the cops were keeping the administration building closed off so that no one could do their jobs. I had to bring some paperwork to the reg. office and they wouldn't let me through.

Agrella and Tyler are not particularly courageous. Instead of coming out and talking to the students, they call in the cops with the batons and the pepperspray.

And half the cops are likely CCSF alums.

It's a big game, playing the little people off each other.

Come out and be transparent. What are you hiding?

Posted by Chico on Mar. 14, 2014 @ 12:40 pm

If the students had peacefully protested outside, none of this would have happened. But they escalated without thinking it through. Slapdown time.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 14, 2014 @ 12:52 pm

The top photo shows the police with their batons pulled, armed against what appears to be elderly people and a child of about 8. I wasn't there, but the photo is a bit odd and looks like the police are acting too forcefully. Local colleges are very important to the very fabric of our country, giving access to higher education to kids who may have made a mistake when they were young, are financially struggling, have to stay close tho their family for personal reasons, single parents, etc., not just ESL (who are still an important group of people who deserve education if they desire). Also, San Francisco has a history of protesting, and is a huge part of the culture. To imagine the City any different would be very sad. I love our freedom to protest, and it's important that that is protected for the sake of our future. I am proud of being from Northern California and I hope I can continue to feel that way through this new chapter. We need more empathy and intelligent thought though, for the sake of the kids and our future as a community.

Posted by Elle on Mar. 14, 2014 @ 1:25 pm

The payment policy is discriminatory, because it affects undocumented and international students disproportionally. It amounts to raising fees on some students, not others. And it is not true that students closed down Conlan Hall, or stopped business from going on there. I was there, and while it is true we did enter against the cops' wishes, we didn't close any doors to the public, or threaten anyone trying to enter. The cops didn't allow food or faculty members in, except those cleared by the head cop. The cops did this because we students didn't limit our protest to one of three designated "free speech areas" on campus. Meaning CCSF students are free to protest the recent fee hikes ... As long as we are inside of a pen, surrounded by cops.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 14, 2014 @ 1:40 pm

Very interesting, thank you for this.

Posted by Elle on Mar. 14, 2014 @ 1:46 pm
Posted by Guest on Mar. 14, 2014 @ 2:04 pm

Your argument that the new requirement that students pay fees upon registering for classes is dicriminatory is BS. Nothing more.

Posted by Richmondman on Mar. 14, 2014 @ 2:06 pm

Probably what they teach at CCSF

Posted by Guest on Mar. 14, 2014 @ 2:28 pm

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