NYPD Removes Palestinian Flag, Raises American Flag at CCNY Protest Encampment

Pro-Palestinian protests at CCNY and Columbia University lead to clashes with police, mass arrests, and campus closures, raising concerns about campus safety and free speech.

Wojciech Zylm
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NYPD Removes Palestinian Flag, Raises American Flag at CCNY Protest Encampment

NYPD Removes Palestinian Flag, Raises American Flag at CCNY Protest Encampment

The New York Police Department (NYPD) removed a Palestinian flag and raised an American flag at an encampment of pro-Palestinian protesters on the campus of the City College of New York (CCNY) in New York City. The mass arrests of dozens of protesters occurred just before midnight on Tuesday, as the college announced it would shift to online classes "until further notice" due to the ongoing pro-Gaza encampment on the campus.

The unrest at CCNY came as NYPD officers in riot gear also stormed the Columbia University campus, where demonstrators had taken control of the school's main administration building. CUNY students had previously disrupted a Board of Trustees financial committee meeting to demand Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez meet with them about their demands to divest from Israel and for amnesty for those facing student discipline from pro-Palestinian protests.

The college had warned students that the encampment "has to be dismantled by the beginning of classes on Wednesday" and offered an alternate location for campus protests that follow university policies. However, on Tuesday night, anti-Israel protesters at CCNY violently clashed with police before officers cleared out the "intifada" encampment that was erected on the campus last week.

The chaos broke out as protesters tried to break through a barricade blocking them from reaching the tent city. Police made arrests and removed the Palestinian flag that had been raised by the protesters, replacing it with the American flag. CCNY President Vince Boudreau announced that the campus would be closed and classes would be remote on Wednesday due to the encampment, which he said was "posing significant difficulties" for the college. Boudreau described the demonstration as "more contentious and violent than anything we've seen on campus before."

Why this matters: The incidents at CCNY and Columbia University are part of a broader wave of pro-Palestinian protests and encampments that have led to clashes with police and mass arrests at over 25 college campuses across the United States. The protests have raised concerns about campus safety, free speech, and the role of outside groups in organizing the demonstrations.

At Columbia University, NYPD officers entered the campus at the university's request to restore safety and order after dozens of pro-Palestinian protesters occupied Hamilton Hall and unfurled a Palestinian flag from a window. The university stated that the decision to call in the NYPD was made to protect the students and the entire Columbia community. "The university cannot allow a small group of outside activists to disrupt university operations, threaten the safety of the broader community, and attempt to prevent fellow students from receiving the education to which they are entitled," Columbia President Lee Bollinger said in a statement.

Key Takeaways

  • NYPD removed Palestinian flag, raised American flag at CCNY protest
  • Dozens of pro-Palestinian protesters arrested at CCNY and Columbia University
  • CCNY shifted to online classes due to ongoing pro-Gaza encampment
  • Protests at over 25 US college campuses raise concerns about safety, free speech
  • Columbia University requested NYPD to restore order after protesters occupied campus