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Tuesday, June 18, 2024
Tuesday June 18, 2024
Tuesday June 18, 2024

Arrests at Columbia University as police disperse Gaza protest

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NYC police take action at Columbia University, arresting dozens amid escalating Gaza protests on campus

In a significant escalation at Columbia University, New York City police have intervened to disperse a protest concerning Gaza, resulting in numerous arrests. The protests, which have been part of a broader wave across U.S. college campuses, reached a critical point late Tuesday evening.

Live footage captured hundreds of NYPD officers entering Columbia’s campus to address the situation, where students have been vocal against Israel’s actions in Gaza. The conflict has led to significant casualties and drawn international attention, with more than 34,535 Palestinians reported killed.

The focal point of the protests was Hamilton Hall, an administration building on the university campus, which protesters had occupied since early Tuesday and renamed “Hind’s Hall” in memory of a young Palestinian victim. The NYPD’s intervention was aimed at clearing the building and the main protest site, where officers were seen using ladders to enter through second-story windows.

A spokesperson for the NYPD stated, “We’re clearing it out,” as police in riot gear approached the barricaded entrance. Officers later escorted protesters, handcuffed with zip ties, from the building to waiting police vehicles. The Associated Press reported that between 30 and 40 individuals were taken into custody.

Outside Hamilton Hall, protesters chanted support for Palestine and demanded the release of detained students. The police action marks another historic moment of confrontation at Columbia, reminiscent of the 1968 student protests against racism and the Vietnam War.

The Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine group reported on social media that the area around the protest had been heavily barricaded, with a significant police presence.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams and police officials suggested at a news briefing that the protest had been influenced by “outside agitators” with no direct ties to the university, known for inciting unrest. Columbia University, in a statement, declared that calling the NYPD was a necessary response after public safety personnel were expelled from the occupied building by protesters.

Mahmoud Khalil, a leading student organizer and Palestinian student at Columbia, contested the claims about external agitation. “They’re students,” Khalil asserted, emphasizing the local roots of the protest movement.

The protesters have been urging Columbia University to divest from Israeli-linked investments and to be transparent about its financial connections to the country. They also seek amnesty for all students involved in the protests.

The unrest at Columbia is part of a larger national movement, with related protests and arrests reported from coast to coast as universities gear up for graduation ceremonies. These incidents underscore the intensity and reach of student-led activism, reflecting broader geopolitical tensions and a significant moment of student activism in the United States

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