Omar’s daughter says she was sprayed with ‘chemical weapons’ during protest

The daughter of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) said she and others were sprayed with “chemical weapons” while protesting the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza at Columbia University.

Isra Hirsi, 21, told MSNBC on Monday she believes there is “some hypocrisy” in the way the university is punishing the pro-Palestinian demonstrators, when compared to the treatment of counterprotesters.

“This is 100 percent targeted,” Hirsi said. “Every single protest that we have, there’s a group of counterprotesters that bring all of their items, their flags and things like that. And they’re not seen as having unsanctioned protests, or really received the kind of disciplinary warnings that many of our fellow organizers receive just for being seen at these protests.”

“And so there is definitely some hypocrisy here, especially you can kind of see it with the students that were … sprayed … with the chemical weapons,” she added.

Hirsi was one of more than 100 students arrested last week for participating in the cease-fire protests at Columbia. She was also suspended from Barnard College, cutting off her access to food and housing.

Columbia informed their students they would be suspended as well for their involvement.

In an interview with Teen Vogue, Hirsi said she has been “basically evicted” after the suspension and is concerned about her food access as she relies on her dining plan for meals.

The demonstrations have roiled Columbia University’s campus, stretching into the seventh day on Tuesday. Hundreds of students are occupying the center of campus, calling for a cease-fire in Gaza and a halt in U.S. military aid to Israel.

Columbia officials last week authorized the New York Police Department (NYPD) to arrest students involved with the protesters, further inflaming tensions.

While most of the protests were reported to be peaceful, concerns were raised over the safety of students and proliferation of antisemitic rhetoric. Some protest groups have rejected the characterizations of their demonstrations as antisemitic, pointing to the significant portion of demonstrators who are Jewish.

Concerns were further driven by a reported call from one campus rabbi for Jewish students to return home “as soon as possible,” ahead of the start of the Jewish holiday of Passover on Monday night.

Asked if she believes the protest encampment made other students uncomfortable, Hirsi said, “I think that the encampment was honestly one of the beautiful forms of solidarity.”

“We would be singing songs, we had meals together, people prayed together,” she continued. “They held Shabbat yesterday, and it’s really just been a very community-centered space.”

Columbia University’s main campus will shift to hybrid learning for the reminder of the semester amid the ongoing tensions, the school announced Monday.

Protests have ramped up on other campuses, including New York University, where the NYPD moved into a crowd of protesters and took multiple people into custody Monday night.

Earlier on Monday, police arrested dozens of protesters at Yale University after an encampment swelled to several hundred people calling for the school to divest from military weapons manufacturers.

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