Police Arrested Dozens at Columbia University To Clear Occupied Building

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More than 100 individuals were arrested at Columbia University and City College of New York on Tuesday night amid escalating protests against Israel’s bombardment of Gaza that were sweeping across college campuses nationwide.

At Columbia University’s Hamilton Hall, police in riot gear utilized flash bangs to enter the building where pro-Palestinian demonstrators had barricaded themselves. Within less than two hours of the police intervention, the situation at Columbia’s Morningside Heights campus was brought under control.

Columbia University has requested the presence of NYPD officers to remain on campus until May 17, two days after the graduation ceremony, but protesters have remained steadfast in their defiance.

While Columbia has been the focal point of these demonstrations, similar protests have erupted at universities across the country. In Los Angeles, Mayor Karen Bass announced early Wednesday that police had been dispatched to UCLA after reports of clashes between pro-Palestinian protesters and Israel supporters on campus.

“The violence unfolding this evening at UCLA is absolutely abhorrent and inexcusable,” Mayor Bass stated in a post expressing her concerns about the situation.

police arrested Dozens at Columbia University
police arrested Dozens at Columbia University

Here are the most recent updates from other campuses

At the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, tensions escalated as at least 36 protesters were detained during an encampment demonstration. Witness reports indicated police physically pushing back demonstrators, and the campus US flag was replaced with a Palestinian flag in a symbolic act of protest.

Florida State University also saw unrest, with five individuals, including two students, arrested during a demonstration on Tuesday, according to the school’s statement.

At the University of Texas-Austin, concerns over police resources were raised by Travis County prosecutor Delia Garza, who emphasized the need for compromise between law enforcement and student protest organizers. The campus witnessed a significant number of arrests, with nearly 80 people detained on Monday alone. Garza’s office is currently processing at least 65 criminal trespass cases related to the protests.

Meanwhile, at the University of Southern California, President Carol Folt engaged in a second meeting with protesters on campus, but no resolution was reached between the parties.

The issue of occupied buildings and security also arose at Portland State University, where President Ann Cudd urged students occupying the library to voluntarily vacate the premises. The university is coordinating with law enforcement to address the situation.

Conversely, after reaching agreements with students, several universities, including Yale and Brown, have effectively removed protest encampments. At Brown University, student protesters agreed to disband their encampment following the university’s commitment to hold a vote on divesting from companies that support Israel, showcasing a path towards resolution through dialogue and mutual understanding.

I don’t have information past January 2022, but the last few years have seen significant tension on college campuses around issues related to the conflict between Israel and Hamas. This tension has intensified since Hamas attacked in October, leading to increased anti-Semitic incidents and anti-Muslim sentiment. Protests have been more frequent, especially since Columbia University’s president, Minouche Shafik, testified before a House committee on campus anti-Semitism while pro-Palestinian demonstrations occurred simultaneously. After this, the university asked the NYPD to remove trespassing protesters from the campus, resulting in over 100 arrests.

The encampments were organized by Columbia University Apartheid Divest (CUAD), a coalition of over 100 student organizations such as Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace. They aimed to protest Columbia University’s financial investments in corporations that allegedly profit from Israeli apartheid, genocide, and the military occupation of Palestine, as stated in their news release.

Following the example set by CUAD, pro-Palestinian encampments have sprung up at campuses across the United States. These include the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Emerson College, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Michigan, the University of Southern California, and the University of California, Berkeley. The movement reflects a broader trend of activism spreading among students who are advocating for change in university investment practices related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

 

 

1 COMMENT

  1. […] Pro-Palestinian activists gathered at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus in Manhattan’s Upper West Side on Wednesday, where they appeared to have established a small encampment inside the university’s Lowenstein building. The demonstration drew over 50 participants, who were protesting both inside and outside the building. New York City Police officers responded by setting up a perimeter around the area, utilizing barriers to contain the gathering. […]

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