CCSF students exploring legal options in wake of violent protest 

click to enlarge City College of San Francisco
  • Juan Pardo/S.f. Examiner file photo
  • Two students were arrested and others injured in a protest March 13 at City College, which is facing an accreditation crisis. The demonstration demanded the resignation of Special Trustee Robert Agrella.
A group of students at City College of San Francisco is speaking with a National Lawyers Guild attorney regarding possible legal options in connection with a protest on campus last month that turned violent and left students and police officers injured.

Both students and the administration have since called for peace on campus after the March 13 rally, which targeted the resignation of Special Trustee Robert Agrella, reinstatement of the elected board of trustees and reversal of a new tuition policy. Students held a vigil the following week, and Chancellor Art Tyler reminded the community to remain respectful.

The protest came as CCSF is grappling with an accreditation crisis.

In a post published March 31 on the Save CCSF Coalition website, students who were “hit, pushed, injured or witnessed any of this at the March 13 demo” are asked to contact Rachel Lederman, a National Lawyers Guild attorney who is working with the students. Lederman recently helped settle a lawsuit against the city of Oakland for $4.5 million filed by Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen, who was shot in the head by a law enforcement officer with a lead-filled “beanbag” round during an Occupy Oakland protest in 2011.

“We definitely are looking to defend the students that are injured,” said Susan Shatterly, 28, a third-year student at CCSF who was at the March 13 protest. “There are different avenues where we’re going to take this.”

On Wednesday, Lederman declined to comment on any possible actions.

“Students are weighing their options; they feel very unfairly treated,” said Wendy Kaufmyn, an instructor at the college who is part of the Save CCSF Coalition but is not speaking with an attorney regarding the protest. The coalition comprises students, classified staff, faculty and city residents.

The protest followed a rally around campus and involved hundreds of demonstrators attempting to push their way into Conlan Hall. San Francisco police officers responded to aid campus police at the event, which turned violent and caused injuries to several students and six campus police officers.

Two students were arrested at the protest — one for allegedly threatening officers and the other for reportedly striking an SFPD officer.

However, the Save CCSF Coalition has said claims that students struck or assaulted officers are “unfounded,” and that all physical assaults actually were inflicted by police against students. One student was pepper-sprayed by a campus officer.

CCSF spokesman Peter Anning said he knew that some students were potentially seeking legal representation. He said the school is taking steps to initiate its own investigation.

Officer Albie Esparza said Wednesday that he hadn’t heard of potential legal action against the department.

In June, the school’s accrediting body voted to terminate CCSF’s accreditation, effective this July. But in January, a judge barred the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges 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.

About The Author

Laura Dudnick

Laura Dudnick, a Bay Area native, covers education and planning for The San Francisco Examiner. She previously worked as a senior local editor for, and as the San Mateo County bureau reporter and weekend editor for Bay City News Service.
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