Police arrest dozens of pro-Palestinian protesters at Columbia University

AP , Friday 19 Apr 2024

New York police removed a pro-Palestinian protest encampment at Columbia University on Thursday and arrested more than 100 demonstrators, including the daughter of a prominent Minnesota congresswoman.

C Protests
New York City police officers in riot gear stand guard as demonstrators chant slogans outside the Columbia University campus. AP


Several students involved in the protest said they also were suspended from Columbia and Barnard College, including Isra Hirsi, who is the daughter of Democratic US Representative Ilhan Omar.

Omar had questioned Columbia's president, Nemat Shafik, at a hearing Wednesday in Congress about the school’s targeting of pro-Palestinian protesters.

Police said 108 people, including Hirsi, were charged with trespassing at the private Ivy League institution. Two people were also charged with obstructing government administration.

New York Mayor Eric Adams said the city was asked in writing by university officials to remove the encampment.

“Students have a right to free speech, but do not have a right to violate university policies and disrupt learning on campus,” Adams said.

The students had been protesting on campus since early Wednesday, opposing Israeli war on Gaza and demanding the school divest from companies which “profit from Israeli apartheid."

Shafik issued a statement saying the school had warned protesters on Wednesday that they would be suspended if the encampment was not removed. School officials made the decision Thursday to call in police and clear out the demonstrators, she said.

Shafik also said the university tried through several channels "to engage with their concerns and offered to continue discussions if they agreed to disperse.”

The school said it was still identifying students involved in the protest Thursday and added more suspensions would be forthcoming.

Police moved in early Thursday afternoon, using zip ties to arrest protesters and escort them to waiting buses before removing the tents.

Pro-Palestinian protesters reorganized on campus a short time later, chanting, “Shame”

“We demand full amnesty for all students disciplined for their involvement in the encampment or the movement for Palestinian liberation,” the protest coalition said in a statement.

Email and voice messages were left with Omar’s office on Thursday afternoon seeking comment.

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