Hunter Students Turn Away FBI-Sponsored Corporate Meetup


The New York Post ran a little fast and loose with a story last week on the cancellation of a meeting of an FBI-affiliated business group at the Hunter College School of Social Work, and we here at Runnin’ Scared thought it would be nice to fill in the backstory.

According to the Post, the New York Metro chapter of InfraGard, a public-private venture of the FBI partnering with infrastructure businesses, canceled their meeting because of fears of public controversy resulting from planned student protests.

Scrutiny of InfraGard has heated up after the publication of an article in The Progressive claiming that members of the group had secret authorization to ‘shoot to kill’ threats “when — not if — martial law is declared.” Since then, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! has covered the group, and the FBI has been forced to issue an official public response to the magazine’s claims. The story also got coverage in a few blogs, both left and right.

The Hunter School of Social Work students organized against InfraGard after hearing about their upcoming meeting through Democracy Now!, and thought that hosting an FBI-affiliated group violated the basic principles of an education in social work.

“We felt that InfraGard was expanding government and corporate surveillance on individuals, and that was a violation of our civil liberties, and the FBI has a history of undermining social justice, which is a part of our history at the school of social work” said Lauren Mariotti, an organizer with the students objecting to the event. Despite the Post’s claims that the students were motivated by the Progressive’s (admittedly sensational) story, Mariotti said that they were driven by the FBI’s “long history of undermining social justice movements.”

InfraGard and Hunter gave conflicting stories about the reasons for the event’s cancellation, but the students seem pleased with what looks like a win for the organizers.

“Everything’s not so clear right now, all that we know is that we came together to prevent them from coming specifically to the School of Social Work. We’re happy that our democratic efforts were successful” Mariotti said.