Protesters against NYU Law trustee unite for second demonstration

By Nicole Brown

Around 30 people gathered at Bobst Library yesterday afternoon to participate in a follow-up protest to last week’s rally held by the Student Labor Action Movement against Daniel Straus, a NYU School of Law Trustee.

Last Tuesday, counter-protesters allegedly interrupted the demonstration of more than 100 nursing home workers and NYU students by threatening and insulting many demonstrators. A video of the counter-protesters threatening a student was put on YouTube last week and has received more than 10,000 views at the time of press.

Gallatin junior Caitlin MacLaren, an organizer of the protests, said it became clear to many members of SLAM that some demonstrators were not nursing home workers as they had claimed.

“When asked where they worked, some said, ‘the Straus Institute,’ which obviously is not a nursing home,” MacLaren said.

Dan DiMaggio, a second-year sociology graduate student at NYU and a member of SLAM, said the purpose of yesterday’s rally was to raise awareness of issues surrounding Straus and the presence of counter-protesters at last week’s rally.

“We want to inform the campus and also demand that [NYU] President [John] Sexton and [Law School] dean Revesz publicly repudiate these actions and demand a public apology from Straus,” DiMaggio said.

Adaner Usmani, a fourth-year sociology Ph.D student, was physically accosted at the rally last week.

“I think it is absolutely shameful. We are pretty confident that they were planted by Straus or the company,” Usmani said. “They seemed to have no idea where they were or who they were going against.”

Usmani said there was a higher students turnout yesterday.

“The struggle for them is still going on, they are on their 78th day of the picket line,” he said.

In addition to demonstrators holding up signs and chanting, the rally included speeches from multiple nursing home workers and the student who was threatened at the first rally. Additionally, protesters delivered letters to President Sexton and NYU Law dean Revesz to make their concerns known.

But Tim Hodges, chief strategy officer at Straus’ CareOne Management, denies the accusations that Straus’s company hired the counter-protesters.

“On their own initiative and on their own time, employees of both CareOne and HealthBridge Management chose to show their support for those companies by attending the rally and showing that there’s another side to this,” Hodges said.

No counter-protesters were present at the rally yesterday, but SLAM members suggested that they were hiding in bushes and sitting on benches in the park.

The rally also attracted a small crowd of people on the sidewalk.

LSP freshman Andie Salgado said he did not understand why the protest was going on at first. But after hearing more information, she expressed concern.

“Instead of helping the workers, [Straus] will just stop donating money to NYU, which will only hurt the students,” Salgado said.

A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Sept. 20 print edition. Nicole Brown is a contributing writer. Email her at [email protected]