Letter, February 21, 1935, Page 2
The rumours that have been bruited about concerning the forty Brooklyn College students who were arrested for picketing Dean's Cafeteria, have not been fair, to the facts nor the students. Facing the possibility of disciplinary action on the part of the College administration, which might result in duplication of the City College affair on our campus, we feel it necessary to present all the facts to you–as well as the causes that gave them rise.
The Sorrell strike is history. A sane eco nomic and political analysis preceded our picketing there, as it has preceded every action we have undertaken. It was not some misguided yearning for self-expression, as some people seem to think. Most of us come from working class homes. Upon graduation we will become part of that working class. All our economics courses and the newspaper headlines have riveted into our minds the fact that one-half of this class faces unemployment and starvation.If we are ever to get out of the mess into which our economic structure has plunged us, this class must act!
Through all the confusion of the past decade one fact is clear. Strikes have been effective. The Sorrell strike was.
The Dean workers came to our meeting, and acquainted no with their miserable condition--ten dollars and sixty cents for a nine hour-day and a six day week. They also stated that they were not allowed to join a union of their own choosing. It was cited that the union had twice petitioned the Regional Labor for some satisfation. The workers asked for our support. We gave it.
On February 13, 14, and 15, w e proceded to Dean's Cafeteria, marched up and had in orderly picket fashion, just as we had clone at Sorrell's. We did not sing, shout or accost any person entering or coming out of Dean's, contrary to the garbled testimony of the officers and the secretary of the Brookyn Cafeteria Owners Association. We were within our rights. We were arrested!
After the arrest we took pains to inform the public that our constitutional rights had been abrogated, that section 7A of the NRA was being violated and that we had not committed any breach of the peace.
At the time of the arraignment some of us did not give our real names. In this we were also within our legal rights. We were frisked for identification. Personal mail was read aloud by the blue-coated gendarmes. One of the boys had a card addressed to him on his person. When they found it two officers–Hudson and Donovan–took him into a back room. We heard the crack of blows. The boy emerged with the left side of his face red and swollen His name had been beaten out of him.
There were sixteen arrested in the first day, seven girls and nine boys. The girls were tried Friday before Magistrate Casey. The charge was disorderly conduct. They were :acquitted. The Magistrate's decision is of the utmost importance. He contended that their constitutional rights were more important than any breach of the peace they may commit. In effect, these young women were confirmed, if not encouraged, in their working class activity.
Ten girls come up for trial March 5. Nineteen boys are now at the Adolescents court before Judge Mason. This trial is peculiarly significant. Contrary to the precedent set by Magistrate Casey, every shred of seemingly irrelevant evidence has been dragged in by the District Attorney.' The famed `"red-herring" was flaunted through the courtroom. Insinuations of conspiracy and subversive activity were made. By this time the issue had broadened. The charge is no longer disorderly conduct. Freedom of speech, of assemblage and the NRA are now on trial.
With the Ives and the Nunan bill smoking hot on the records of the Board of Education, these issues affect the students. We contend that this is fascism, and in our own law courts! The German "state" subsists on it as does Mussolini's "corporation."
The National Student League (on behalf of the forty arrested students).