NYPD makes arrests at Columbia as protest encampment is removed

NYPD makes arrests at Columbia as protest encampment is removed

Officers with the New York Police Department (NYPD) were clad in riot gear Thursday during a pro-Palestinian demonstration at Columbia University, where protesters set up an encampment of dozens of tents on campus.

Photos circulating on social media and various media outlets showed dozens of police officers in body armor and face shields lined up around Columbia University Thursday afternoon. Officers arrested dozens of demonstrators Thursday, The New York Times reported. NYPD declined to provide any details on the arrests as the situation is ongoing.

Demonstrators set up an encampment of tents that went up Wednesday morning, prompting Columbia University President Minouche Shafik to authorize the NYPD to help remove the encampment “out of an abundance of caution.”

“I have determined that the encampment and related disruptions pose a clear and present danger to the substantial functioning of the University,” Shafik wrote in a letter to the NYPD Thursday.

She said the demonstrators were informed multiple times they are not permitted to occupy the space — the South Lawn of Columbia University’s Morningside Heights Campus — but have “refused” to disperse or comply with school administrators.

“I regret that all of these attempts to resolve the situation were rejected by the students involved. As a result, NYPD officers are now on campus and the process of clearing the encampment is underway,” she said in an update Thursday.

All university students involved in the demonstration were told they are suspended, Shafik added.

“Students who are participating in the unauthorized encampment are suspended. We are continuing to identify them and will be sending out formal notifications,” a university spokesperson told The Hill.

Among those suspended was Isra Hirsi, the daughter of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). Hirsi is a student at Barnard College, which is connected to Columbia but has some independence.

Independent presidential candidate Cornel West joined Thursday’s protests, according to multiple social media posts.

In one video, West was seen shouting into a megaphone, “I stand here in solidarity with each and every one of you.”

“Cause we are in solidarity with human suffering, especially when it is imposed by human beings and I’m taking about the indescribable genocide of our precious Palestinians in Gaza,” he continued.

The protests come one day after House lawmakers with the Education and Workforce Committee grilled Columbia officials about their response to the rise in antisemitism witnessed at schools across the country following Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

A series of U.S. colleges have faced an uptick in demonstrations and protests in the months that followed the Oct. 7 attacks.

This story was updated at 5:49 p.m.

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