Police raid Columbia University campus to break up pro-Palestinian protest

US

Police have raided Columbia University and arrested pro-Palestinian protesters after demonstrators occupied one of its buildings.

It comes after New York City Mayor Eric Adams said on Tuesday that the demonstration at the Ivy League school “must end now” and claimed “professional outside agitators” had infiltrated the protest.

University bosses said they had called in officers from the New York Police Department (NYPD) after protesters “chose to escalate the situation through their actions”.

“After the university learned overnight that Hamilton Hall had been occupied, vandalised, and blockaded, we were left with no choice,” the university said in a statement.

Police officers stand guard while other officers use a special vehicle to enter Hamilton Hall of Columbia University which protesters occupied, during the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in New York City, U.S., April 30, 2024. REUTERS/David Dee Delgado
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Police enter Hamilton Hall. Pic: Reuters

Police gather around Columbia University, where a building occupation and protest encampment had been set up in support of Palestinians, as other officers move into the campus, during the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in New York City, U.S., April 30, 2024. REUTERS/David Dee Delgado
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Police gather around Columbia University before moving in to break-up the protest. Pic: Reuters

Police stand guard near an encampment of protesters supporting Palestinians on the grounds of Columbia University, during the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in New York City, U.S., April 30, 2024. REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs
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Police stand guard near an encampment of protesters on the grounds of Columbia University. Pic: Reuters

“The decision to reach out to the NYPD was in response to the actions of the protesters, not the cause they are championing.

“We have made it clear that the life of campus cannot be endlessly interrupted by protesters who violate the rules and the law.”

The protest began when students barricaded the entrance of Hamilton Hall at the Manhattan campus on Tuesday and unfurled a Palestinian flag out of a window.

Video footage showed protesters locking arms in front of the hall and carrying furniture and metal barricades to the building.

A group called Columbia University Apartheid Divest (CUAD) said they had renamed the building “Hind’s Hall” in honour of Hind Rajab, a six-year-old girl killed in a strike on Gaza in February.

Protesters unfurled a flag with the words 'Hind's Hall'. Pic: Reuters
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Protesters unfurled a flag with the words ‘Hind’s Hall’. Pic: Reuters

Protesters hang banners on the exterior of Hamilton Hall building.
Pic: Reuters
Image:
Protesters hang banners on the exterior of Hamilton Hall building.
Pic: Reuters

Demonstrators said they planned to remain at the hall until the university conceded to the CUAD’s three demands: divestment, financial transparency and amnesty.

However, officers moved in on the campus on Tuesday night after university bosses wrote to New York City officials and the New York Police Department (NYPD) formally asking for assistance.


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A large group of officers dressed in riot gear entered the campus late on Tuesday evening. Officers were also seen entering the window of a university building via a police-branded cherry-picker-style vehicle.

Earlier, Mayor Adams urged demonstrators to leave the site. “Walk away from this situation now and continue your advocacy through other means,” he said.

Columbia University also threatened academic expulsions for students involved in the protest.

Protesters block the entrance of Hamilton Hall at Columbia University. Pic: AP
Image:
Protesters block the entrance of Hamilton Hall at Columbia University. Pic: AP

Demonstrators block the entrance of Hamilton Hall. Pic: AP
Image:
Demonstrators block the entrance of Hamilton Hall. Pic: AP

Dozens of people were arrested on Monday during protests at universities in Texas, Utah, Virginia and New Jersey, while Columbia said hours before the takeover of Hamilton Hall that it had started suspending students.

Police moved to clear an encampment at Yale University in Connecticut on Tuesday morning, but there were no immediate reports of arrests.

Earlier, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said President Joe Biden believed such demonstrations were “absolutely the wrong approach” and “not an example of peaceful protest”.

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