Schumer condemns ‘lawlessness’ at Columbia University protests

Schumer condemns ‘lawlessness’ at Columbia University protests

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday denounced protesters at Columbia University who smashed windows and unfurled an intifada banner while seizing control of Hamilton Hall, delivering his strongest criticism to date of pro-Palestinian protesters in New York.

“Smashing windows with hammers and taking over a university building is not free speech. It is lawlessness. And those who did it should promptly face the consequences that are not merely a slap on the wrist,” Schumer said on the Senate floor.

“Campuses cannot be places of learning and argument and discussion when protests veer into criminality and those who commit such acts are doing nothing to convince others that their cause is just,” he said.

Schumer made his comments after protesters on Columbia’s barricaded themselves in a building close to the campus South Lawn, prompting university officials to threaten students occupying the building with expulsion.

“We made it very clear yesterday that the work of the University cannot be endlessly interrupted by protesters who violate the rules. Continuing to do so will be met with clear consequences,” Columbia University said in a statement Tuesday.

Schumer, the highest-ranking Jewish congressional leader in history, warned it is “unacceptable when Jewish students are targeted for being Jewish, when protests exhibit verbal abuse, systematic intimidation or glorification of the murderous and hateful Hamas or the violence of Oct. 7.”

Schumer pointed to his landmark Nov. 29 speech on antisemitism, which noted the rise of hate speech directed toward Jews around the country.

“It is loathful. It is unacceptable,” he said.

Some Republican lawmakers, including Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), have called on Columbia University President Minouche Shafik to resign for letting the situation on campus spin out of control.

“This President Shafik has shown to be a very weak, inept leader. They cannot even guarantee the safety of Jewish students? They are expected to run for their lives and stay home from class? It’s maddening,” Johnson said in a radio interview with Hugh Hewitt.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) took to the Senate floor after Schumer to criticize the pro-Palestinian demonstrations that have roiled college campuses across the country.

“The student radicals behind hateful chants like ‘From the river to the sea’ have proven to be incoherently ecumenical. They’ve chanted ‘Long live Hamas,’” he said. “They’ve been joined on the picket line by faculty members, for whom radical anti-Semitism is merely an extension of their day jobs in post-modern indoctrination.”

McConnell took a shot at the nation’s premier universities for letting their standards slip and showing “weakness and inaction” at the leadership level.

“What is clear is that basic comprehension of history, theology and geography is in very short supply,” he said. “They’re in the news because weakness and inaction has allowed universities to become cauldrons of criminal chaos.”

McConnell urged Columbia’s leaders to pay attention to what how their counterparts down the New Jersey turnpike at Princeton University handled campus protests.

He noted that Princeton “upheld clear prohibitions on activity like forming encampments and responded swiftly and severely to an attempt last night to occupy a campus building.”

“It’s not enough for administrators to lament campus disorder. Strongly worded warnings only carry weight when they’re backed up by action,” he said.

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