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Did the LAPD Break a 73-Year-Old Professor's Arm at Thursday's Education Protest?

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When a group of Cal State Northridge students and professors clashed with police on Reseda Boulevard during education protests Thursday evening, 73-year-old Native American studies professor Karren Baird-Olson was pushed to the ground, leaving her with a broken arm and other injuries. A YouTube video has surfaced showing parts of the incident. The person who posted the video said Baird-Olson was "brutally attacked" by the LAPD, specifically an officer with the last name Vollmer. The video also appears to show California Highway Patrol officers assisting the LAPD.

In the video, Baird-Olson is seen standing with students in the street. When interaction between police and protestors intensified, an officer apparently put his hand over the video camera, but screams can be heard in the audio. Afterwards, Baird-Olson is seen laying on the ground and someone is heard calling for an ambulance.

She was then taken into custody, reported the Daily Sundial. Students on Friday held a press conference about the violence and demanded that Baird-Olson not be charged and that her medical fees be paid.

CSUN officials said five people were arrested, but a professor who witnessed the incident and spoke to students aftwards said four more were arrested as well, possibly by non-campus police. He also said only 30 of the 3,000 or so protestors blocked the street.

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Baird-Olson holds a Masters and Ph.D. in Sociology, both with an emphasis in Criminology. "The First Amendment gives us the right to assemble and demonstrate," she told the Daily News. "That is not a privilege. It is a right. This is supposed to be a place where voices are heard."

LAPD Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese had a different perspective. "We told the teachers, though, that we teach students the wrong thing when we allow them to take over a street without a permit," he said to the paper. "They cannot do that. What we wanted was a peaceful resolution. We didn't want to have to wrestle with a bunch of kids. It's not good for them. It's not good for us."

A caption on the video says Baird-Olson was brought to the ground by police and was "stepped on and trampled."

An LAPD public information officer said she was not aware of the incident and that calls should be directed to campus police. CSUN media representative Carmen Chandler was not available for immediate comment and his telephone line rang without going to voicemail. An e-mail to him was not immediately replied to.


A video about CSUN's protest filmed earlier on Thursday