Over 100 Arrests Made at Columbia University Pro-Palestine Protests

(BrightPress.org) – On Thursday, April 18th, the president of Columbia University, Nemat Minouche Shafik, requested assistance from the New York Police Department in removing unauthorized protestors from the campus lawn. More than 100 students had established an encampment on the south lawn of the university to demonstrate their support of Palestinians. Shafik said she “reluctantly” took the “extraordinary step” of involving the NYPD because she was concerned about the safety of university students and staff.

The students had been pitching tents and protesting Israel’s war on Gaza since early morning on Wednesday. Shafik wrote in an email to the campus community that the university had attempted to negotiate with protestors, offering to “engage with their concerns” with continued discussions if the protestors would disperse. The group of pro-Palestinian demonstrators refused to engage in communication with the university. Mayor Eric Adams made a statement supporting the students’ right to free speech but said they do not have the right to cause disruption on campus or violate university policies.

The NYPD made 108 arrests without incident. Those arrested were cited for trespassing. Two of those arrested were also charged with obstruction of governmental administration. Isra Hirsi, the daughter of Democratic representative Ilhan Omar from Minnesota, was among the students arrested and cited for trespassing. Hirsi was also suspended from the university. She responded to her suspension by posting on X that students in the “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” would “stand resolute” until their demands were met. All students were notified by the university on Wednesday night that those who remained in protest at the encampment would face suspension. The school is still in the process of identifying students and issuing formal notifications of suspension.

University employees cleared the tents and gathered student belongings from the encampment. A plan will be devised to allow students to retrieve their personal property.

Shafik, along with other university leaders, testified to Congress on Tuesday over an alleged antisemitic climate on the Ivy League campus since the Israel-Hamas war began in October.

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