White House says Columbia protesters' building seizure 'wrong approach'

AFP , Tuesday 30 Apr 2024

US President Joe Biden opposes the seizure of a Columbia University campus building by pro-Palestinian protesters, the White House said Tuesday as demonstrations raged at colleges across the country.

Columbia students
Students with the Gaza Solidarity Encampment take over Hamilton Hall at Columbia University naming it Hind s Hall, in New York. Protesters named it Hind s Hall as an homage to Hind Rajab, who was found dead 12 days after she called for help in Gaza. Students have been occupying part of campus calling for the university to divest from institutions that have ties to Israel. AP


"The president believes that forcibly taking over a building on campus is the wrong approach," National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told an online briefing.

"That is not an example of peaceful protest."

Masked demonstrators smashed windows and entered the Hamilton Hall building at the Ivy League university in New York, barricading themselves inside with metal tables.

The university has become the focal point for Gaza protests around the United States.

"You just got to do it peacefully. You can't hurt anybody and you can't... be disrupting the educational pursuit of your fellow students," Kirby said.

The White House was "watching these protests with concern", although it had no evidence of "bad actors" trying to take advantage of the demonstrations, Kirby added.

While Biden was "mindful of the strong feelings" of demonstrators, it would not change his support for Israel's offensive against Hamas in Gaza, the spokesman said.

"The president also has... a responsibility to look after our national security interests around the world and that also means making decisions in the region that support those interests," he added.

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