A New York University professor is one of the masterminds behind the anarchist group that organized therampage through the subwayslast month, destroying turnstiles, stranding thousands of commuters and spray-painting “F–k Cops” on station walls.
Amin Husain, 44, is a co-founder of Decolonize This Place, which urged its radical followers in a social media campaign to “f-ck sh-t up” on Jan. 31 in a violent assault on the city’s transit system that concluded with 13 arrests and $100,000 in damage.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said he was “repulsed”by the hooliganism, and Police Commissioner Dermot Shea called the so-called J31 protests “criminal.”
“You can’t have a situation in New York City where people are putting up on social media intending what they’re going to do. ‘Knives, aim for their neck, blind police officers,’” Shea said.
Husain recently scrubbed most of his social media posts so exactly what role he might have played in the underground explosion is not known. Protesters called for a free transit system with “no cops” patrolling the subways. Some vandalized stations by pouring glue or honey into turnstiles to jam them up, or chaining doors open.
Husain did not return messages seeking comment. After Post inquires last week, his contact information was deleted from NYU’s web site.
Asked if Husain is being probed in the wild spree or was one of those arrested, the NYPD refused comment. “We don’t ever comment on specifics,” said NYPD Lt. John Grimpel. A spokeswoman for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said they had no arrest records for Husain.
At NYU, Husain may be imparting his radical ethos to students, teaching a class on militant activism, according to the school’s web site.
Born in Palestine, Husain has spoken publicly about attacking Israeli soldiers as a teenager during the first Palestinian Intifada, a four-year-long uprising against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza which began in 1987.
“I was throwing rocks, Molotov cocktails, the like,” he said at a pro-Palestinian rally in Times Square in July 2016 captured on a YouTube video.
Founded in 2016 by Husain and fellow activist Nitasha Dhillon — an India-born artist — Decolonize This Place describes itself online as a grass-roots social justice organization that seeks to raise awareness of the struggles of Native and African Americans, Palestinians, and other marginalized groups.
But the web site also features various revolutionary manuals, including a diagram entitled “How to Shut Down the City.” The drawing shows a step-by-step guide on how to overpower an opponent, including kicking in the face and groin. Thought bubbles feature words such as “nails,” “glass bottles” and “masks.”
Husain teaches a workshop called “Art, Activism, and Beyond” in the “experimental humanities” department of NYU’s Gallatin School for Individualized Study, a small interdisciplinary college whose alumni include actors Rooney Mara and Dakota Fanning. The workshop “interrogates the relationship between art and activism,” and uses anarchist movements such as Occupy Wall Street and Direct Action Front for Palestine, an anti-Israeli group, as case studies, NYU’s web site says.
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A former lawyer who received a master’s of law degree from Columbia University, Husain worked in the New York office of multinational law firm King & Spalding for five years beginning in 2004, before pursuing photography and becoming a part-time instructor at NYU in 2014, according to his LinkedIn profile and public records. He also holds teaching positions at the New School and Pratt Institute, according to LinkedIn.
“Our records reflect that he is one of the thousands of part-time faculty that are hired each year by schools and academic departments,” said NYU spokesman John Beckman.
Between 2018 and 2019, Husain was among the leaders of a months-long protest at the Whitney Museum of American Art which forced the resignation of its vice chair Warren Kanders over his control of a company that manufactures tear gas that was used against migrants on the US/Mexico border.
In 2016, Husain was part of a demonstration at the Museum of Natural History that demanded the removal of the now-controversial statue of a horse-borne Theodore Roosevelt flanked by two standing Native Americans at the entrance.
Husain also took a lead in protests at the Guggenheim which targeted the museum’s use of migrant labor at its planned satellite location in Abu Dhabi.