Wednesday, May 29, 2024

New York Police arrests pro-Palestinian protesters at Columbia University

New York Police Department officers detained at least 30 people on Thursday afternoon to quell a pro-Palestinian protest at Columbia University. Police also cleared out a tent encampment set up by the student protesters.

Earlier, three Barnard College students, including US lawmaker Ilhan Omar’s daughter Isra Hirsi, were suspended for participation in an ongoing Gaza solidarity protest encampment at a lawn on campus.

The camp set up on the southern lawns of Columbia University was organised by the student-led coalition, Columbia University Apartheid Divest, Students for Justice in Palestine, and Jewish Voice for Peace.

The demand is that Columbia divest from “Israeli apartheid” and “genocide” in Gaza.

The actions came the day after university leaders pledged to Congress that they would crack down on unauthorized student protests tied to the war in Gaza. Columbia President Nemat “Minouche” Shafik testified to the House education committee.

According to a witness, police officers loaded at least three buses with demonstrators, as other protesters shouted “Shame! Shame!” “Shafik, Shafik you can’t hide, you are supporting genocide’.

The police action comes as Shafik wrote a letter to the NYPD on Thursday asking for the department’s help to “remove these individuals.”

“The actions of these individuals are in violation of University rules and policies,” the president wrote. “The University provided multiple notices and warnings and informed the encampment participants that they must disperse or face immediate discipline.”

In a letter to the students, Shafik wrote, “I regret that all of these attempts to resolve the situation were rejected by the students involved. As a result, NYPD officers are now on campus and the process of clearing the encampment is underway.”

“Protests have a storied history at Columbia and are an essential component of free speech in America and on our campus. We work hard to balance the rights of students to express political views with the need to protect other students from rhetoric that amounts to harassment and discrimination,” the email reads.

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