Columbia Protesters Said They Were Sprayed With a Chemical Weapon. A New Lawsuit Says It Was Fart Spray

AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura

As I've mentioned before, pro-Hamas protesters at Columbia University have held several unauthorized student gatherings on campus. At one of these gatherings they claimed to have been sprayed with an Israeli chemical agent called Skunk.


This claim was first expanded upon by the school newspaper. [emphasis added]

Three students identified the substance as “Skunk,” a chemical developed by the Israeli firm Odortec and employed by the Israeli military against demonstrators in the West Bank, according to the BBC...

[Layla] Saliba said that she went to urgent care following the alleged attack and experienced fatigue, headaches, nausea, and a “raw sewage” smell after the protest. She said that she made the decision to seek medical attention after seeing SJP’s posts about the alleged attack on social media.

Doctors diagnosed Saliba with “exposure to a harmful chemical” and told her that she will have to miss class “for a few days” due to her “severe pain,” she said. Saliba said that her autoimmune condition has worsened the effects of the spray.

Saliba said she believed the substance used at Friday’s demonstration was a “diluted” version of Skunk but emphasized that the “average person would not have access to this stuff.”

You can’t just go and buy this stuff online,” Saliba said.


This claim about "skunk" was quickly picked up by friendly journalists at the Intercept.

During a rally on Friday, according to attendees, two individuals sprayed a hazardous chemical that released an odious smell. Dozens of students have reported an array of symptoms, such as burning eyes, nausea, headaches, abdominal and chest pain, and vomiting.

The campus chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine publicized the incident on Saturday morning, identifying the substance as “skunk,” a chemical weapon used by the Israel Defense Forces against Palestinians and one that U.S. police departments have reportedly acquired in the past. SJP also alleged that the assailants have ties to the Israel Defense Forces, a claim that The Intercept could not independently confirm.

The students responsible were banned from campus but Students for Justice in Palestine continued to complain the investigation wasn't getting enough attention and the NYPD wasn't taking them seriously.

[The university] didn’t even tell us, like, ‘Oh, we should go to urgent care or anything,’” Layla said. “We were the ones that figured it out. We were the ones — I actually took the photos of the people and helped identify them. They haven’t done anything. NYPD hasn’t made any arrests, even though we have multiple witnesses. It’s been a nightmare.”...

Layla said her account of the incident was met with skepticism by the NYPD, who asked that if the weapon was as serious as she said, why she did not go to the hospital right away.


It turns out the NYPD may have been right to be skeptical about this story. Today the Washington Free Beacon reports that a lawsuit against the school has been filed by one of the students who were banned from campus. The lawsuit claims the smell was fart spray bought on Amazon.

According to a lawsuit filed against Columbia on Tuesday, the suspended student had in fact dispersed "Liquid Ass"—a "gag gift for adults and kids," per its product description—at an unsanctioned pro-Palestinian rally. He sprayed the substance in the air, not at any particular individual, in what the lawsuit describes as a "harmless expression of speech." The result was a swift suspension for which the student is now suing, alleging that the university "rushed to silence Plaintiff and brand him as a criminal" through "biased misconduct proceedings."...

The lawsuit alleges that Columbia failed to protect the plaintiff from anti-Semitic harassment as he underwent a rigged disciplinary process that presumed him "guilty from the start" because of his affiliation with Israel. Non-Israeli students at the rally "were not disciplined in any manner," the complaint states, even though the university hadn’t approved the event.

I can't verify the claims made in the lawsuit but presumably this claim would not be filed without verifying that the student had in fact bought some "Liquid Ass" online prior to the unauthorized protest.


As mentioned earlier today, representatives from Columbia University were testifying before congress today about anti-Semitism on campus. Rep. Jamaal Bowman made a point of asking about the "so-called chemical attack" on protesters. President Shafik referred to it as an "odorous substance" but doesn't mention it was fart spray.

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