NYPD Arrests Nearly 50 Protesters at Columbia University Amid Ongoing Demonstrations

NYPD arrests nearly 50 protesters at Columbia University who occupied a building, demanding divestment from Israel. University defends calling police to "restore safety and order."

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Nitish Verma
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NYPD Arrests Nearly 50 Protesters at Columbia University Amid Ongoing Demonstrations

NYPD Arrests Nearly 50 Protesters at Columbia University Amid Ongoing Demonstrations

On Tuesday night, the New York Police Department (NYPD) arrested nearly 50 protesters at Columbia University in New York City. The protesters had occupied Hamilton Hall, a school building, since early Tuesday morning, barricading the entrances and unfurling a Palestinian flag from a window. The university requested the NYPD's intervention, stating that the decision was made to "restore safety and order to our community" after the building was "occupied, vandalized, and blockaded."

The NYPD operation commenced at the university's request, with officers entering the building through a window using a ladder attached to a police vehicle. The protesters' occupation came nearly two weeks after student protesters set up an encampment on the school's South Lawn calling for the university to divest from Israel. A few dozen NYPD officers were also present at the City College of New York, where student protesters had gathered.

The protesters, including students and non-affiliates, were demanding that the university divest from companies supporting Israel's government, increase transparency in university finances, and provide amnesty for students and faculty disciplined over the protests. Columbia University had threatened academic expulsion of the student protesters and restricted campus access, while Mayor Eric Adams and the NYPD said the occupation was instigated by "outside agitators."

Why this matters: The protests at Columbia University are part of a larger wave of student activism against Israel's actions in Gaza, which have sparked counter-protests and accusations of antisemitism. The incident highlights the challenges universities face in balancing free expression and preventing hate speech during such protests.

The university defended its decision to call in the NYPD, stating that it was in response to the actions of the protesters, not the cause they were championing. "The safety of the community, especially the students, was their top priority," the university said in a statement. The arrested protesters were seen being led away with their hands zip-tied behind their backs and loaded onto buses.

Key Takeaways

  • NYPD arrested nearly 50 protesters at Columbia University.
  • Protesters occupied Hamilton Hall, barricading entrances and unfurling a Palestinian flag.
  • University requested NYPD intervention to "restore safety and order".
  • Protests part of wider student activism against Israel's actions in Gaza.
  • University defended NYPD action, citing safety concerns for the community.