Gov. Hochul Addresses Potential Use of National Guard Amid On-Campus Protests

New York governor considers deploying state police to handle protests on university campuses after pro-Palestinian protesters occupy buildings, leading to clashes and arrests.

Bijay Laxmi
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New York Governor Considers Deploying State Police to Handle University Campus Protests

New York Governor Considers Deploying State Police to Handle University Campus Protests

New York Governor Kathy Hochul was asked regarding deploying of state police to handle protests on university campuses. She answered by emphasizing that local law enforcement has the primary responsibility. This comes after pro-Palestinian protesters took over buildings and set up encampments at universities across the U.S., leading to clashes with police and hundreds of arrests.

At Columbia University in New York City, nearly 100 people were arrested after the NYPD cleared out a building and tent encampment occupied by protesters. "The decision to call in the NYPD was made to 'restore safety and order' after the protesters barricaded themselves inside Hamilton Hall and the university learned the building had been 'occupied, vandalized, and blockaded,'" the university said in a statement.

Columbia University President Minouche Shafik has faced criticism for her handling of the protests. She wrote to the NYPD requesting their help to clear the occupied building and encampments on campus after protesters forced their way into Hamilton Hall and refused to leave. The university stated that the decision to involve the NYPD was in response to the protesters' actions, not the cause they were championing.

Why this matters: The nationwide campus protests have forced colleges to reckon with their financial ties to Israel and support for free speech. Some Jewish students say the protests have veered into antisemitism, while protest organizers, some of whom are Jewish, say they are responding to Israel's actions in Gaza.

Governor Hochul emphasized that while Americans have the right to peacefully protest, any actions that cross the line into vandalism, harassment, or violence will not be tolerated. "We have state police and other resources available, but the primary responsibility does fall with the policing agencies where a municipality is or a locality is," Hochul said. She has offered assistance to universities to ensure that in-person commencement ceremonies can proceed safely without disruption.

The White House and UN Secretary-General have expressed concerns over the campus standoffs. White House National Security Communications Adviser John Kirby said that forcibly taking over a building on campus is the wrong approach, and students should be able to study without disruption and feel safe. The UN human rights office stressed that antisemitic, anti-Arab, and anti-Palestinian comments are unacceptable and disturbing.

Governor Hochul reiterated that the state's priority is to keep all students safe, including those who feel threatened or harassed. She said the state will work to ensure that the freedoms of speech, worship, and freedom from fear are protected. The NYPD has stated that it will protect the right to protest, but will not tolerate violence, property damage, or disruption of emergency services on university campuses.

Key Takeaways

  • NY Gov. Hochul considers deploying state police to handle campus protests.
  • Protests at Columbia Univ. led to nearly 100 arrests after NYPD cleared occupied buildings.
  • Protests force colleges to address financial ties to Israel and free speech issues.
  • White House, UN express concerns over campus standoffs, call for safety and accountability.
  • NYPD vows to protect protest rights but won't tolerate violence, property damage, or disruption.