Hundreds of aggressive student protesters -- and warnings that they intended to take over the administration building -- prompted City College of San Francisco's leaders to lock down the school's Conlan Hall last week, resulting in two arrests and multiple injuries, according to officials.
The Thursday protest, which followed a rally around campus and involved protesters attempting to push their way into the hall, was characterized as more aggressive than a protest last year that was allowed to occupy the same building overnight, said CCSF police Officer Erica McGlaston, who was present for both.
"They intended to enter and take it over," said McGlaston, describing the difference with the most recent action. She added that police were warned by several students of plans to occupy the administration building at the school, which faces possible removal of its accreditation. "An executive decision was made after consulting with the administration."
Still, 15 protesters -- all inside the building before the larger group arrived Thursday -- were allowed to stay overnight, according to a statement by Chancellor Arthur Tyler.
Others, including Otto Pippenger and Dimitrios Philliou, who were both arrested on misdemeanor charges, were blocked from entering the building by about 18 campus police and then driven away by roughly 75 police from across The City, who responded to calls for help from the school, McGlaston said.
"We should establish stronger communications with the police and make sure that this stuff doesn't happen to other people," said Philliou, who entered the building through a back door before he was arrested by two officers after being pepper-sprayed.
Fallout from the protest was evident Monday on campus as a group of about 35 activists -- many who claimed the aggression came from police -- gathered in support of the two briefly detained students. The group also talked about the continuing campaign criticizing Special Trustee Robert Agrella's leadership.
"I am saddened to see students engaging in violent outbursts and I am saddened to know that students were arrested," Tyler said in a statement. "I ask the entire City College community to tone down the rhetoric and treat each other with respect. Making this institution work requires all of us -- students, faculty and staff. Please remember that we are colleagues and each is deserving of respect and physical safety. We have many challenges ahead and we need to unite around our efforts to keep the college open and to create a future where we thrive."
The two arrested students are scheduled to reappear in court Wednesday. No charges have yet been filed by the District Attorney's Office.
In June, the school's accrediting body voted to terminate CCSF's accreditation, effective this July. But in January, a judge barred the accreditor from taking any action until a lawsuit filed by The City has been resolved. The termination was not linked to academics.
Losing accreditation would effectively force CCSF to close.