Riot Police Raid Columbia University, Arrest Pro-Palestinian Protesters

Riot police storm Columbia University, arresting dozens of pro-Palestinian protesters who had occupied a campus building. Escalating tensions over the Israel-Palestine conflict on US campuses.

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Olalekan Adigun
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Riot Police Raid Columbia University, Arrest Pro-Palestinian Protesters

Riot Police Raid Columbia University, Arrest Pro-Palestinian Protesters

On Tuesday night, hundreds of New York City police officers in riot gear entered the campus of Columbia University, arresting dozens of pro-Palestinian protesters who had occupied a campus building. The protesters had seized control of Hamilton Hall the previous night, prompting the university to request assistance from the NYPD to maintain order.

Police used a ladder to climb through a second-floor window of Hamilton Hall, which the protesters had renamed "Hind's Hall" in honor of a Palestinian girl killed in Gaza. The officers cleared the building and a tent encampment set up by the protesters on campus. Dozens were arrested after ignoring an earlier ultimatum to abandon the occupation.

The incident at Columbia is part of a larger wave of pro-Palestinian activism that has spread across U.S. college campuses in recent weeks, leading to over 1,000 arrests nationwide. Similar protests and police interventions have occurred at the City College of New York, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Virginia Commonwealth University, and other schools.

The Columbia protesters had issued three demands: divestment from companies supporting Israel's government, greater transparency in university finances, and amnesty for students and faculty disciplined over the protests. University President Minouche Shafik had earlier warned that students participating in the Hamilton Hall occupation faced potential expulsion.

Why this matters: The forcible removal of student protesters by riot police marks a significant escalation in the conflict between pro-Palestinian activists and university administrations. The nationwide scope of the protests and the high number of arrests underscore the intensity of the debate over the Israel-Palestine conflict on American campuses.

Tuesday's police raid at Columbia University occurred on the 56th anniversary of a similar action in 1968, when officers quashed an occupation of Hamilton Hall by students protesting racism and the Vietnam War. The university said it had no choice but to call in the NYPD after protesters vandalized and blockaded the building. Columbia has asked the police to maintain a presence on campus until at least May 17, two days after the university's graduation ceremony, to prevent any re-establishment of the encampments.

Key Takeaways

  • NYPD arrested dozens of pro-Palestinian protesters at Columbia University.
  • Protesters had occupied a campus building, renaming it "Hind's Hall".
  • Protests are part of a nationwide wave of pro-Palestinian activism on U.S. campuses.
  • Protesters demanded divestment, transparency, and amnesty for disciplined students.
  • Police raid occurred on the 56th anniversary of a similar 1968 action at Columbia.