Friday, May 24, 2024

Police in riot gears crackdown Palestine protest on Columbia University campus

New York Police wearing riot gear entered the campus of Columbia University on Tuesday night where students have been holding a peaceful Gaza Solidarity encampment since April 17. Several journalists said media have been blocked from entering and reporting.

Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine said that “multiple blocks have been barricaded off”. A spokesperson for Columbia University says that the New York Police Department entered the campus at the “university’s request”.

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

Earlier student protesters entered Hamilton Hall – the site of student protests dating back to the 1960s – and suspended a banner reading “Hind’s Hall” from an upper floor. Hind Rajab is a six-year-old girl who was killed in Gaza.

The new development comes soon after New York Mayor Eric Adams said the protest “must end now” in a joint news conference with the New York police chief.

Meanwhile, faculty members at Columbia University said they hold the “university leadership responsible for disastrous lapses of judgement”. In a statement issued around an hour before police entered the campus in overwhelming force, faculty members said the presence of armed officers entering the campus “places students and everyone else on campus at risk”.

“We hold University leadership responsible for the disastrous lapses of judgment that have gotten us to this point,” the faculty statement said.

Pro-Palestine demonstrations are spreading across campuses in the US and internationally as students call on their universities to “disclose and divest” their investments in companies and organisations linked to Israel and its war on Gaza.

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