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Police detain pro-Palestinian protesters at Columbia University campus

Photo : REUTERS

Late on Tuesday, April 30, a substantial number of New York City police officers were deployed to Columbia University, where pro-Palestinian protesters had gathered, as reported by the Associated Press. The NYPD's entrance onto the campus followed an authorization from Columbia University to take action in response to the situation. Specifically, the police presence was directed towards Hamilton Hall, a building occupied by protesting students. These demonstrators were expressing their opposition to Israeli military actions in Gaza and calling for the university to divest from companies associated with the conflict.

Live television coverage depicted scenes of police detaining protesters on the campus grounds. According to reports from the New York Times, some students were escorted off-campus, with their hands restrained with zip ties, and others were taken away in law enforcement buses.

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Columbia University confirmed its communication with the police prior to their intervention. A university spokesperson stated that the decision to involve law enforcement was made to ensure the safety and order of the campus community. The spokesperson further explained that the occupation of Hamilton Hall, along with incidents of vandalism and blockading, prompted the university to seek police assistance. It was emphasized that the university was compelled to act when its own public safety personnel were forced out of the building and threatened.

The university administration stressed that the group occupying the building was not affiliated with the institution and that reaching out to the NYPD was a response to the actions of the protesters rather than their cause. It was asserted that continuous disruptions by protesters violating rules and laws could not be tolerated.

Protesters had initially defied a Monday deadline to vacate the campus, prompting the university to begin suspending participating students. Despite attempts at negotiation, including from university president Minouche Shafik, a compromise could not be reached. Shafik reiterated the university's stance on divestment from Israel, emphasizing that this position would not change.

Police officers were observed entering Hamilton Hall through a second-story window, aided by a vehicle-mounted ladder. Simultaneously, police presence intensified around the encampment near the campus, drawing criticism from some quarters, including New York congressman Jamaal Bowman, who condemned the intervention as excessive and unnecessary, particularly in response to nonviolent protests.

May 1, 2024 2:07 p.m. 3786

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