Police Arrest Columbia Students, Clear Occupied Building In Campus Unrest

On Tuesday, dozens of helmeted police swarmed Columbia University’s campus in New York City to evict and imprison pro-Palestinian student protesters who were occupying a building.

Police climbed into Hamilton Hall through a second-floor window from a laddered vehicle and led shackled students out into police vans.

Demonstrators had held the hall at morning, vowing to oppose any eviction as they condemned Israel’s increasing death toll from its war with Hamas in Gaza.

The action comes as university administrators across the United States tried for weeks to keep pro-Palestinian demonstrations on dozens of campuses.

In a letter to the New York Police Department, Columbia University President Minouche Shafik stated that the occupation of the school building was led by “individuals who are not affiliated with the University” and requested “NYPD’s help to clear all individuals from Hamilton Hall and all campus encampments.”

She also requested that police remain on campus until at least May 17, “to ensure encampments are not reestablished.” Commencement is slated for May 15.

On Instagram, the demonstrators attacked Shafik’s comments, adding “her use of the words ‘care’ and’safety’ are nothing short of horrifying.”

The weeks of demonstrations, the most widespread and continuous disturbance to hit US college campuses since the Vietnam War protests of the 1960s and 1970s, have already resulted in the detention of several hundred students and other activists.

Earlier, Columbia protestors were spotted using ropes to pull crates of supplies up to the second level, indicating that the students intended to hole down.

President Joe Biden’s White House had severely denounced Hamilton Hall’s seizure, with a spokeswoman stating it was “absolutely the wrong approach.”

“That is not an example of peaceful protest,” the spokesman added.

Former US president Donald Trump lamented the “anti-Semitism that’s just pervading our country,” and slammed Biden, his rival in the November presidential election for inaction.

“Biden has to do something. Biden is supposed to be the voice of our country and… it’s a voice that nobody’s heard,” Trump said Tuesday evening on Fox News.

A nationwide movement

The protests, with Columbia at the heart, have presented a challenge to university administrators trying to balance free speech rights with allegations that the gatherings have devolved into anti-Semitism and hatred.

The unrest has spread like wildfire across the United States’ higher education institutions, with numerous student protesters setting up tent encampments on campuses from coast to coast.

Demonstrators at Columbia have vowed to stay until their demands are granted, including the school’s divestment from any financial interests associated with Israel.

The institution has denied the request. Columbia has warned that students occupying the building will face expulsion.

In one of the most recent clashes, police went in Tuesday at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to clear one encampment, holding some protestors in a tense standoff.

Meanwhile, at northern California’s Cal Poly Humboldt, a week-long occupation came to a dramatic end early Tuesday as police moved in to arrest almost three dozen protestors who had seized buildings and forced the campus’ shutdown.

Portland State University’s campus in Oregon was closed on Tuesday due to an ongoing issue in the library. Local media reported around 50 protesters breaking into the building the day before.

Brown campus also secured an arrangement in which student protestors will evacuate their campsite in exchange for the college voting on divesting from Israel – a significant concession from a top American campus during the protests.

Footage of police in riot gear summoned to numerous colleges has been viewed all over the world.

UN human rights official Volker Turk expressed worry over the heavy-handed tactics used to crush the college protests, stating that “freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly are fundamental to society.”

He goes on to say that “incitement to violence or hatred on grounds of identity or viewpoints — whether real or assumed — must be strongly repudiated.”

Shafik claimed that many Jewish students had deserted Columbia’s campus in terror. “Anti-Semitic language and actions are unacceptable,” she went on to say.

The Gaza war began on October 7 when Hamas terrorists launched an unprecedented offensive on Israel, killing around 1,170 people, most of whom were civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official data.

During their onslaught, terrorists also took captives, 129 of whom Israel estimates are still in Gaza, including 34 who the IDF claims are dead.

According to the health ministry of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 34,535 individuals, the majority of whom are women and children.

Leave a Reply