Over 100 Pro-Palestinian Protesters Arrested at Columbia University

Over 100 pro-Palestinian protesters arrested at Columbia after university president ordered NYPD to clear encampment, sparking criticism over crackdown on student dissent.

Nitish Verma
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Over 100 Pro-Palestinian Protesters Arrested at Columbia University

Over 100 Pro-Palestinian Protesters Arrested at Columbia University

More than 100 pro-Palestinian protesters were arrested at Columbia University on Thursday after the university's president authorized the New York Police Department to clear an encampment set up by students demonstrating against Israel's war in Gaza. The protesters, including Isra Hirsi, daughter of Rep. Ilhan Omar, had occupied the space on the university's South Lawn for 30 hours.

Columbia University President Nemat Shafik ordered the police to clear the encampment, stating that the protesters had breached the university's rules and policies against holding unauthorized demonstrations. The university said it had made numerous attempts to resolve the situation, but the students rejected them. At least three students, including Hirsi, were suspended for participating in the encampment.

The clash at Columbia is the latest in a series of demonstrations that have disrupted university campuses, bridges, and airports since Israel began its assault on Gaza in October 2023. The protesters are demanding that Columbia divest all finances from corporations that profit from Israeli actions in Palestine. They are also calling for full amnesty for all students disciplined for their involvement in the protests.

Why this matters: The ongoing conflict in Gaza has resulted in the deaths of over 34,000 Palestinians, leading to protests calling for more U.S. action to curb Israeli military action. The crackdown on protests at Columbia has drawn criticism, with some saying the university cannot be both a place of learning and one that resorts to law-and-order responses to protest.

The arrests at Columbia marked the first time mass arrests were made on campus since 1968 when NYPD arrested hundreds of students protesting the Vietnam War. Student and faculty leaders criticized Shafik's decision to bring in the police, saying she was willing to sacrifice the students' education, health, safety, and well-being. The Columbia University Apartheid Divest coalition said over 120 people, including legal observers, were arrested in what was described as one of the largest mass arrests of student protesters since the start of Israel's actions in Gaza.

Key Takeaways

  • Over 100 pro-Palestinian protesters arrested at Columbia University protest
  • University president ordered NYPD to clear student encampment, citing policy violations
  • Protesters demand Columbia divest from corporations profiting from Israel's actions
  • Protests part of ongoing demonstrations against Israel's assault on Gaza since 2023
  • Arrests mark largest campus crackdown since 1968 Vietnam War protests at Columbia