Hawley, Cotton call on Biden to deploy National Guard over Gaza protests at colleges

GOP Sens. Josh Hawley (Mo.) and Tom Cotton (Ark.) called on President Biden on Monday to deploy the National Guard to colleges, particularly Columbia University in New York City, where pro-Palestinian protesters have staged sit-ins and other disruptive activities to focus public attention on the war.

“Eisenhower sent the 101st to Little Rock. It’s time for Biden to call out the National Guard at our universities to protect Jewish Americans,” Hawley posted on the social platform X.

He was referring to former President Eisenhower’s decision to call in the 101st Airborne Division to Little Rock, Ark., in 1957 to ensure the safety of nine African-American students enrolled at Central High School.

Then-Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus (D) had ordered the Arkansas National Guard to surround the school to prevent the nine students from integrating the school in the wake of the Supreme Court’s landmark 1954 decision in Brown v. Topeka Board of Education, which struck down “separate but equal” segregation as unconstitutional.

Cotton called on the Biden administration to “break up” the pro-Palestinian groups on Columbia’s campus if New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) fails to take control of the situation by deploying the New York National Guard.

“The nascent pogroms at Columbia have to stop TODAY, before our Jewish brethren sit for Passover Seder tonight. If Eric Adams won’t send the NYPD and Kathy Hochul won’t send the National Guard, Joe Biden has a duty to take charge and break up these mobs,” Cotton posted on X.

Cotton’s call for the National Guard or federal troops to intervene on Columbia’s campus is reminiscent of his call for then-President Trump to “send in the troops” to break up protests that spread across the country after George Floyd’s murder in 2020.

Cotton in a New York Times op-ed suggested invoking the Insurrection Act to restore order, warning: “These rioters, if not subdued, not only will destroy the livelihoods of law-abiding citizens but will also take more innocent lives.”

“In these circumstances, the Insurrection Act authorizes the president to employ the military ‘or any other means’ in ‘cases of insurrection, or obstruction of the laws,’” Cotton argued at the time.

Columbia, where swelling protests have drawn national attention, announced Monday it would hold classes remotely to defuse the tense situation on campus.

Students protesting against the war in Gaza, including Jewish students, have set up camp on Columbia’s central lawn and have demanded the university divest from companies that are profiting from the war.

Columbia President Minouche Shafik last week called in the New York City Police Department to break up the tent encampment, resulting in more than 100 arrests, and the university has also suspended some students, but those actions did little to quell the protests.

The demonstrations have spread to other universities, such as Yale in Connecticut, where police arrested more than 45 demonstrators Monday.

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