Pro-Palestinian Protesters Arrested at Columbia University

AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura

Yesterday we had the president of Columbia University testifying before congress about anti-Semitism on campus. Today, the NYPD has moved in to arrest a group of student protesters who've been camping out in tents as part of a pro-Palestinian/anti-Israel protest. There is truly nothing the left loves more than shouting obscenities at police.


Naturally, the NYPD doesn't just show up uninvited to arrest student protesters. A couple hours ago (as I write this) President Shafik released a statement saying she had made the decision to let them in, but only after multiple attempts to 

This morning, I had to make a decision that I hoped would never be necessary. I have always said that the safety of our community was my top priority and that we needed to preserve an environment where everyone could learn in a supportive context. Out of an abundance of concern for the safety of Columbia’s campus, I authorized the New York Police Department to begin clearing the encampment from the South Lawn of Morningside campus that had been set up by students in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

I took this extraordinary step because these are extraordinary circumstances. The individuals who established the encampment violated a long list of rules and policies. Through direct conversations and in writing, the university provided multiple notices of these violations, including a written warning at 7:15 p.m. on Wednesday notifying students who remained in the encampment as of 9:00 p.m. that they would face suspension pending investigation. We also tried through a number of channels to engage with their concerns and offered to continue discussions if they agreed to disperse.

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.

Protests have a storied history at Columbia and are an essential component of free speech in America and on our campus. We work hard to balance the rights of students to express political views with the need to protect other students from rhetoric that amounts to harassment and discrimination. We updated our protest policy to allow demonstrations on very short notice and in prime locations in the middle of campus while still allowing students to get to class, and labs and libraries to operate. The current encampment violates all of the new policies, severely disrupts campus life, and creates a harassing and intimidating environment for many of our students...

This is a challenging moment and these are steps that I deeply regret having to take. I encourage us all to show compassion and remember the values of empathy and respect that draw us together as a Columbia community.


It sounds to me like President Shafik wants to keep her job. In any case, here's what happened today. Police arrived in force. They issued warnings that the encampment was unauthorized and then moved in and started making arrests while protesters surrounding the area chanted "Shame on you!"

Chanting aside, the protesters who refused to leave were arrested.

Apparently there were about 70 protesters in the tent camp so it didn't take very long. They were put on waiting buses and taken away. But that still left hundreds of students in the area who continued protesting.


Some of them started "occupying" another nearby lawn by jumping the fences on both sides.

Meanwhile the tents and belongings of the arrested students were cleared out and dumped in an alley.

Cornel West arrived to express his solidarity. He seems to be very popular with this particular crowd.

The NY Times reports that Rep. Jerrold Nadler, who is an Columbia alumni, is supporting Columbia's decision to bring in the NYPD.

Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York. Nadler is one of House’s leading civil libertarians and its longest-serving Jewish member. “Columbia has an obligation to protect students and their learning environment," he said. "The university has set guidelines for peaceful protests on campus, and Columbia has a right to enforce their own rules. Those who continue to violate campus policies are putting members of the Columbia community at risk.”


Meanwhile, one of the groups organizing the unauthorized protests on campus is asking students to demand that all charges are dropped.

So I guess we'll see who has more power at Columbia, the adults who supposedly run the place or the student protesters who, up until today, have actually been running it. These arrests may win President Shafik some relief from critics on her right but it will greatly intensify the attacks from her left. I hope she has good personal security.

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