NYPD Raids Columbia University, Arresting Pro-Palestinian Protester

Hundreds of NYPD officers in riot gear stormed Columbia University, arresting dozens of pro-Palestinian student protesters who had occupied a campus building. The incident highlights escalating tensions on college campuses over the Israel-Palestine conflict.

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Muhammad Jawad
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Dozens Arrested as Police Clear Pro-Palestinian Protesters from Columbia University Campus

NYPD Raids Columbia University, Arresting Pro-Palestinian Protester

Hundreds of New York City police officers in riot gear stormed the campus of Columbia University, taking into custody dozens of pro-Palestinian student protesters who had occupied a campus building. The protesters had barricaded themselves inside Hamilton Hall, demanding the university divest from companies supporting Israel's government, provide greater transparency in university finances, and grant amnesty for students and faculty disciplined over the protests.

Columbia University President Minouche Shafik had requested that police remain on campus until at least May 17, two days after graduation, to maintain order and prevent the re-establishment of protest encampments. "The decision to clear the protest came exactly 56 years after police swept into Hamilton Hall to end a 1968 protest," noted a student leader, drawing parallels to the university's history of student activism.

The university stated it had "no choice" but to call in the police after the protesters escalated the situation by occupying and vandalizing Hamilton Hall. "The occupation came nearly two weeks after student protesters set up an encampment on Columbia's South Lawn calling for the university to divest from Israel," a university spokesperson said. Tensions had been building for days at Columbia, the first of hundreds of similar campus protests nationwide against the Biden administration's response to the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Why this matters: The unprecedented police response at Columbia University highlights the escalating tensions and activism on college campuses surrounding the Israel-Palestine conflict. As the demonstrations extend to other universities nationwide, administrators are grappling with balancing free speech, student safety, and pressure to take stances on the highly charged political issue.

Mayor Eric Adams and police officials claimed the occupation was instigated by "outside agitators" not affiliated with Columbia, but student leaders disputed this characterization. "The demonstrators are Columbia University students. We did not pose any danger and called on the police to back down," said a student negotiator for the protest group. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Columbia chapter of the American Association of University Professors also criticized the law enforcement presence, warning it endangered the community.

Key Takeaways

  • NYPD officers in riot gear stormed Columbia University, arresting student protesters.
  • Protesters demanded university divestment from companies supporting Israel's government.
  • Columbia requested police presence until after graduation to prevent protest re-establishment.
  • Tensions escalated as protests against Biden's Israel-Hamas response spread nationwide.
  • Lawmakers and faculty criticized the police response, calling it a threat to the community.