Protest Against Alpha Conde in New York, Three Arrested
Friday 23 September 2011 04:44am EST.
Three people were arrested near campus yesterday at a protest against the attendance of Alpha Condé, President of the Republic of Guinea, at the World Leaders Forum.
Justice in Guinea, a group that campaigns against human rights violations and genocide in Guinea, stood outside the Columbia gates at 114th and Amsterdam yesterday morning during Condé’s panel titled “Fighting for Democracy and Prosperity in Guinea.”
The three arrests were confirmed by a community affairs officer at the 26th precinct.
“There was a protest on the presence of the president of Guinea. During the protest they got a little bit out of hand,” the officer said. “They wanted to damage property.”
Aaron Johnson, CC ’14, was present at the protest and saw three men get arrested. Two were handcuffed next to the car, and a third was chased away from the gates to campus by police.
“One person resisted arrest and it became a big thing,” Johnson said. “He started to run and the police started running after him. They chased him under the overpass on Amsterdam.”
Despite its rich natural resources, Guinea is one of the poorest countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
Guinea’s contested 2010 presidential election, which saw the triumph of Condé, exposed a sharp ethnic divide between Guinea’s two largest ethnicities, Peul and Malinke.
Resentment has grown against the Malinke, the group Condé belongs to, because they control a large share of the economy and have held more seats of power in government.
Reni Benson, CC’14, who was at the protest and spoke to people on both sides, said that when Condé’s car rolled out of the Amsterdam gates, his supporters reached the car first, but soon afterward the opponents of the president converged on the car.
“Everyone was crowding in on the caravan. The cops took one person aside and arrested him there,” Johnson said. “The cops took one person down.”
Benson said that the police tried to keep the protesters away from the caravan, explaining that they were easily identifiable as many were in traditional dress and speaking their language.
“The police were yelling, ‘Go away, go away,’” Benson said.
Condé’s opponents said they were there to protest violence that they said had been inflicted upon the Peul by Condé’s government and its supporters.
The group had signs with protests such as “Stop rape and stop the killings.”
The gates were closed by Public Safety, who asked for CUID of anyone entering campus, as NYPD asked protesters to leave the area.