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      On Friday, May 8, 1970 members of construction crews from throughout the city gathered in front of Federal Hall National Memorial on Wall Street, where an anti-war demonstration was taking place. Pace students participating in this peaceful event reported that the workers "proceeded to encircle the anti-war protesters standing on the steps in front of the statue of George Washington."A split second later, there was bedlam. According to eyewitnesses,

"Within moments, the workers began an attack with full force, beating students and bystanders with construction tools and clubs while sweeping police aside ... the mob was met with only token and passive resistance by police."

     The workers then proceeded up Broadway to City Hall, where they stormed the building to protest the city's display of the flag at half-mast in memory of the students who died at Kent State. Some of the workers then spotted the Pace College protest banner and 40 to 50 angry construction men raced over to the College. Pace students who had been at City Hall watching the events there were driven ahead of the construction men. The workers caught up with the students at Pace Plaza and immediately began beating students, female as well as male, with pipes, bricks, chains and fists. Students who collapsed on the sidewalk were kicked. Some of the young people succeeded in gaining entrance to the Civic Center building through the one door which was unlocked, whereupon the construction workers followed them inside but were persuaded to leave by faculty members who happened upon the scene.

     Once outside, the workers burned the protest banner which had been draped from the front of the building. When a handful of students standing on the roof of the Civic Center building tossed rocks down at the workers,  "about ten workers rushed the building and succeeded in gaining entrance." According to the Pace Press:

The rest, seeing that no resistance was being offered, followed them, again driving students before them. They began to break the large panes of glass in the outer wall of the building using pipes, bricks, crowbars and their feet.

Once inside, they crossed the hallway and began smashing the panes of glass in the inner wall enclosing the Admissions offices. Those students encountered in the hallway were set upon with crowbars, bricks and the like. Some were beaten over the head with metal wastebaskets.

     A squad of police was needed to clear the building of workers. The brutal attack sent nine Pace students, one of them with a concussion, and one staff member to Beekman Hospital. When it was over, Dr. Mortola said, "On Friday, May 8, the Pace College Community in New York City suffered a dreadful experience which has left all of us saddened and deeply pained. Pace students and staff were viciously attacked in an irrational act by a large group of men identified by those present and in all the public media as construction workers, along with others who had joined them."   

 

 In 1973 Pace attained University status. To learn more about this milestone event, click "Successful Quest for University Status."