NYPD Arrests Dozens of Pro-Palestinian Student Protesters at Columbia University

NYPD clears pro-Palestinian student protesters from Columbia University campus, arresting dozens. University cites safety concerns, protesters claim defending Palestinian rights.

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Muhammad Jawad
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NYPD Arrests Dozens of Pro-Palestinian Student Protesters at Columbia University

NYPD Arrests Dozens of Pro-Palestinian Student Protesters at Columbia University

The New York Police Department (NYPD) entered the Columbia University campus and cleared the occupied Hamilton Hall, arresting dozens of pro-Palestinian student protesters. The university had requested the NYPD's presence on campus through at least May 17 to maintain order and prevent the re-establishment of encampments.

The protesters had barricaded themselves inside Hamilton Hall, which they had dubbed 'Hind Hall,' and set up an encampment, defying earlier orders to vacate the campus. Columbia University called in the NYPD around 9 PM to restore order and ensure campus safety, as the university said the building had been occupied, vandalized, and blockaded. The university also issued a warning threatening expulsion for any student refusing to vacate the occupied premises.

Officers used flash bangs to disorient the protesters as they entered the building through a window. Several buses were used to transport the arrested protesters away from the scene. The NYPD said they arrested about 50 people, mostly professionals rather than students.

The university stated that the decision to involve the police was in response to the protesters' actions, which included vandalism, breaking doors and windows, and forcing out campus security and facilities staff. "The safety of the community, especially students, was our top priority," the university said.

Why this matters: The protests at Columbia are part of a wider wave of demonstrations at college campuses across the U.S. in response to Israel's offensive in Gaza. While some protesters have made antisemitic remarks, the organizers say the movement is aimed at defending Palestinian rights and protesting the war.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams denounced the protesters' conduct, claiming 'professional outside agitators' were influencing the student-led demonstrations. However, a student leader disputed this claim, saying the protesters were Columbia students. The university said those protesters who occupied the building would face expulsion, while those who participated in the encampments would face suspension. The university also restricted campus access to only students and essential employees to ensure a smooth commencement in two weeks.

Key Takeaways

  • NYPD cleared occupied Hamilton Hall at Columbia, arresting dozens of pro-Palestinian protesters.
  • Protesters barricaded themselves, defying orders to vacate; university called NYPD to restore order.
  • NYPD used flash bangs to enter; about 50 people, mostly non-students, were arrested.
  • University cited vandalism, blockades as reasons for involving police; protesters face expulsion/suspension.
  • Protests at Columbia part of wider U.S. campus demonstrations against Israel's Gaza offensive.