At least 108 anti-Israel protesters hauled away, arrested from Columbia University, dozens of tents tossed in trash - Hindustan Times
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At least 108 anti-Israel protesters hauled away, arrested from Columbia University, dozens of tents tossed in trash

BySumanti Sen
Apr 19, 2024 10:46 AM IST

NYPD officers in riot gear cuffed and took away over 100 anti-Israel protesters from Columbia University on Thursday, April 18

NYPD officers in riot gear cuffed and took away over 100 anti-Israel protesters from Columbia University on Thursday, April 18. This came after the college president decided to clear a massive anti-Israel protest encampment.

At least 108 anti-Israel protesters were hauled away, arrested from Columbia University (REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs)(REUTERS)
At least 108 anti-Israel protesters were hauled away, arrested from Columbia University (REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs)(REUTERS)

At least 108 protestors were forced into NYPD corrections buses. Some of them had to be hauled away.

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Later, a crowd of other demonstrators were seen rushing to the police vehicles in an attempt to prevent them from leaving the scene. Officers also tore down multiple tents and tossed them in the trash.

“I applaud the cops. They are doing the right thing,” a 20-year-old student of the university said, wishing to remain anonymous, according to New York Post. We don’t feel safe. We fear for our lives.”

“Remember who started this? Hamas, that terrorist group,” he added. “We pay a lot of money to come here and we should feel safe and protected.”

Dozens of officers were seen on the Morningside Heights campus shortly after 1 pm. They were seen wearing body armour and face shields.

Columbia President Minouche Shafik said that she “authorized” the NYPD to block the protest. Among those who have been arrested are Isra Hirsi, the daughter of “Squad” Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). All those who were arrested were slapped with trespassing summonses. Two protesters were even handed obstruction of governmental administration summonses.

Speaking of the protests, Mayor Eric Adams said, “Students have a right to free speech. They do not have a right to violate university policies and disrupt learning on campus.”

“I know the conflict in the Middle East has left many of us grieving and angry. This is a painful moment for our city, for our country and for the globe. New Yorkers have every right to express their sorrow. But that heartbreak does not give you the right to harass others to spread hate,” he added.

When Minouche Shafik sought the NYPD’s help

Shafik had previously emailed students, staff and faculty saying she had to request the NYPD to assist, even though she thought it would “never be necessary.”

“I took this extraordinary step because these are extraordinary circumstances,” she said. “The individuals who established the encampment violated a long list of rules and policies.”

The president added that the students were warned multiple times to clear out, but they refused. “We also tried through a number of channels to engage with their concerns and offered to continue discussions if they agreed to disperse,” Shafik said. “I regret that all of these attempts to resolve the situation were rejected by the students involved.”

After the protests began, Shafik sent a letter to the NYPD’s deputy commissioner of legal matters, saying cops would need to intervene as students had begun “trespassing” on school property. “With great regret, we request the NYPD’s help to remove these individuals. We understand that the first step in this process will be for NYPD to use its LRAD technology to inform the participants in the encampment that they must disperse and give them time to leave prior to taking any additional action,” her letter read.

“We trust that you will take care and caution when removing any individual from our campus. The safety and security of our community is our highest priority. We appreciate your commitment to assist us in a peaceful and respectful manner at this difficult time,” it added.

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