Rowdy Columbia Protestors Commandeer University Building

Police in Riot Gear Background

( – Anti-Israel protesters at Columbia University in Manhattan invaded Hamilton Hall late Monday evening on April 29th. By the next night, the New York Police Department moved in on Columbia to clear out demonstrators who had taken over the building.

Protesters barricaded themselves inside the academic building. They blocked the windows and doors and hung a Palestinian flag from a window. A large banner displaying “Hind’s Hall” was displayed across the building in honor of a six-year-old Palestinian girl, Hind Rajab, who was killed by Israeli forces.

Students began openly protesting the Israel-Hamas war on the New York college campus two weeks ago. Protesters erected tents on the lawn. Early last week, more than 100 protesters were arrested and suspended for refusing to disperse and remove the tents. Most of them returned to continue rallying their cause.

School officials said they had no choice but to call the NYPD for help once Hamilton Hall had been occupied and all attempts to negotiate with protestors had failed. Disciplinary actions began before protesters took over Hamilton Hall. Ben Chang, a spokesperson for Columbia University said school officials had been very clear about the consequences of protesters violating the rules and disrupting the daily routine at the university. Chang said protesters had escalated the situation by vandalizing and damaging school property. Chang stated that students occupying Hamilton Hall would “face expulsion.”

The NYPD carried riot gear as they entered Hamilton Hall through a window on Tuesday evening. Dozens of protesters were arrested. Police cleared the encampment on the campus lawn and the tents were removed. Officers intend to remain on campus until commencement ceremonies at the university are completed on May 17th.

Fanien Lugo, an accounting student who has not participated in the protests said he believes the school’s decision to involve police feels more like an “escalation than a de-escalation.”

Hamilton Hall has a history of being occupied by protesters. Fifty-six years ago the administrative building was occupied by students protesting racism and the Vietnam War.

More than 1000 protesters have been arrested on college campuses across the United States for escalating beyond peacefully protesting the Israel-Hamas War.

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