Protesters Occupy Hamilton Hall at Columbia University, Intifada Flags Hung as Students Rename it 'Hind Hall'

Pro-Palestinian protesters occupy Columbia University building, demanding divestment from Israel, as tensions escalate over campus encampments nationwide.

Nimrah Khatoon
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Protesters Occupy Hamilton Hall at Columbia University in Response to NYPD Sweep of Pro-Palestinian Encampment

Protesters Occupy Hamilton Hall at Columbia University in Response to NYPD Sweep of Pro-Palestinian Encampment

Protesters have occupied Hamilton Hall at Columbia University, barricading the doors and forming a human blockade, in response to the university's decision to authorize the New York Police Department (NYPD) to sweep the 'Gaza Solidarity Encampment' on campus. The action by the NYPD led to the largest mass arrest on campus since 1968.

The protesters have declared that they will remain in Hamilton Hall until the university divests financially from Israel. They have unfurled banners from the building, including one renaming it 'Hind's Hall' after Hind Rajab, a 6-year-old Palestinian girl killed in Gaza. Hundreds of supporters have rallied around the site, chanting slogans in support of Palestine.

The occupation comes after Columbia University announced it had begun suspending students who failed to leave the pro-Palestinian encampment by a 2 p.m. deadline on April 29. The university sought to avoid bringing the police back to arrest those in the encampment but also committed to the stance that the protest must end.

Why this matters: The protests at Columbia are part of a series of demonstrations against the Israel-Hamas war that have spread across college campuses in the U.S. Universities are grappling with how to clear out the encampments as commencement ceremonies approach, with some using force and ultimatums that have resulted in clashes with police.

Columbia University President Minouche Shafik announced that talks with student organizers had failed to reach an agreement. "The university will not divest from Israel, a demand that has sparked protests on college campuses across the country," Shafik said. The university offered to create an expedited timeline for reviewing new proposals from students, publish a process for accessing Columbia's direct investment holdings, and increase the frequency of updates to that list. However, the talks resulted in a stalemate.

The protesters have vowed to remain in Hamilton Hall until their demands are met. Some faculty have locked arms to protect the encampment. "We will stay here until the university meets our demands to divest all of its finances, including the endowment, from companies and institutions that profit from Israeli apartheid, genocide, and occupation in Palestine," the protesters said in a statement.

Key Takeaways

  • Pro-Palestinian protesters occupy Columbia Univ. building, demand divestment from Israel
  • Protesters barricade Hamilton Hall, rename it 'Hind's Hall' after Palestinian girl killed
  • Columbia suspends students who failed to leave pro-Palestinian encampment by deadline
  • Protests part of nationwide campus demonstrations against Israel-Hamas war
  • Talks between protesters and university fail, protesters vow to remain until demands met