Police Clear Anti-Israel Protesters from Columbia University Building After 12-Hour Standoff

Pro-Palestinian protesters occupy and vandalize Columbia University, leading to police intervention and arrests. Highlights tensions over Israeli-Palestinian conflict on US campuses.

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Shivani Chauhan
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Police Clear Anti-Israel Protesters from Columbia University Building After 12-Hour Standoff

Police Clear Anti-Israel Protesters from Columbia University Building After 12-Hour Standoff

Police in riot gear cleared 30-40 anti-Israel protesters from Columbia University's Hamilton Hall in New York on Tuesday after a 12-hour standoff. The protesters had occupied and vandalized the administration building, breaking windows and overturning furniture, leading the university to request help from the New York Police Department.

The incident occurred on the 56th anniversary of a similar protest against racism and the Vietnam War at the same location in 1968. Columbia University officials said they had no choice but to request police intervention after the building was occupied, vandalized, and blockaded. "The university had asked police to help clear the protesters, citing an 'untenable situation' and safety concerns," according to a statement.

Mayor Eric Adams had warned that outside agitators had taken over the pro-Palestinian protest and needed to be removed. The university said the group that broke into and occupied the building was led by people not affiliated with the university. However, a student leader disputed this claim.

The protesters are part of a larger nationwide movement against the Israel-Hamas war, with demonstrations spreading to college campuses across the U.S. The protesters at Columbia are seeking divestment from companies supporting Israel's government, greater transparency in university finances, and amnesty for disciplined students and faculty. The university president rejected the divestment demand but offered to invest in Gaza and increase transparency.

Why this matters: The incident highlights the ongoing tensions and debates surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on U.S. college campuses. It also raises questions about the balance between free speech, student activism, and maintaining order and safety on university grounds.

Nearly 100 people were arrested in total, about 40 of them at Hamilton Hall. The protesters could face charges such as burglary, criminal mischief, and trespassing. Columbia University has begun suspending students who defied a deadline to vacate a protest tent camp on campus. The university said it would suspend or expel some students for their actions, stating that the protests have created a "threatening environment" for Jewish students and faculty and disrupted academic activities.

Key Takeaways

  • Police cleared 30-40 pro-Palestinian protesters from Columbia University's Hamilton Hall.
  • Protesters had occupied and vandalized the administration building, leading to police intervention.
  • The incident occurred on the 56th anniversary of a similar protest in 1968.
  • Protesters seek divestment from companies supporting Israel, transparency, and amnesty for disciplined students.
  • Nearly 100 people were arrested, and Columbia University is suspending some students for their actions.