Four Protesters Arrested Outside of Parsons Benefit

While nearly 400 guests celebrated Thom Browne and other honorees at Tuesday night’s Parsons benefit, pro-Palestinian protesters picketed outside of the Cipriani Wall Street event.

Four protesters were arrested Tuesday night for varying acts including resisting arrest, trespassing, obstructing governmental administration and, in one instance, carrying a weapon. The four individuals who were arrested were Matthew Huffhammer, 55; Allen Ying, 41; Maria Abdelazim, 22, and Deirdre Martin, 41, according to a NYPD spokesperson.

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The annual gathering attracted such attendees as Tory Burch, Donna Karan, Carolina Herrera’s Wes Gordon, LVMH’s Gena Smith, Hudson Bay’s Liz Robdell, J.Crew’s Olympia Gayot and model-activist Carolyn Murphy. In addition to Brown, the founder and chief creative officer of his namesake company, the 75th annual event saluted fashion advocate and documentarian Bethann Hardison and the J.Crew Group’s chief executive officer Libby Wadle.

Bethann Hardison
Bethann Hardison

The seated dinner raised nearly $1 million for student scholarships, which are typically distributed based on financial need with the amount also varying based on that, according to a New School spokesperson. The number of recipients was not shared.

New School representatives also declined to comment about the protest.

About 50 pro-Palestinian protesters picketed, according to one of the organizers Sawyer Wilson-Mifsud. A video posted on Instagram shows officers from the New York Police Department escorting Wadle and her partner David Potter to their transportation, while protesters crowded around them. After the couple entered a vehicle, two protesters were apprehended by police officers. Wilson-Mifsud alleged via email Wednesday that Potter had assaulted a protester prior to that.

Wilson-Mifsud said that three protesters had been arrested and were still being held. The NYPD spokesperson said four arrests had been made and was uncertain of the status of their detainment Wednesday afternoon.

The New School’s newly named president Joel Towers was also at the benefit. On Aug. 1, the 20-year veteran of the academic institution and the former executive dean of Parsons will succeed Donna Shalala, who has served as interim president, as reported.

Towers’ appointment comes at a chaotic time for The New School, which like other colleges and universities has been dealing with on-campus protesters and encampments including a faculty-led one. Earlier this month, 43 protesters were detained by the NYPD, after school officials called for the removal of an encampment that they said was blocking the entrance to a residence hall, where 600 people were housed.

On or before June 14, the board of trustees’ investment committee will vote on whether or not to completely divest in companies identified by the advisory committee on investor responsibility (ACIR), bringing The New School’s investments in these companies to zero.

At the start of this month, supporters of The New School’s Students for Justice in Palestine claimed the university is invested in 65 funds that have positions in 13 companies including Google, General Electric, Boeing, Hewlett-Packard, Lockheed Martin, Motorola Solutions and the Raytheon Co. among others. The group asked that the school divest from those 13 companies.

The New School said in a statement that that call was based on resolutions by the Gaza Solidarity Encampments; the University Faculty Senate; University Student Senate; University Staff Senate; as well as the faculty councils of Eugene Lang College, The New School for Social Research, Schools of Public Engagement, Parsons School of Design, and the AAUP chapter. “They call for complete divestment from industries implicated in military and police violence in Gaza and the West Bank, and all global militarized conflict such as companies or subsidiaries involved in weapons manufacturing, military supplies and equipment, military communication and public surveillance technology,” the statement read.

Wilson-Mifsud said Wednesday that Tuesday night’s picket was “a labor action because the demands of the encampment include recognition of the New Student Worker’s Union (an unrecognized union of non-academic TNS student workers) and an accretion election for it to join UAW 7902.“

Shalala has previously said that the university supports the NewSWU’s right to organize and has told non-faculty student workers that they can do so now.

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