Fri, May 24, 2024

Police enter Columbia University Campus, deploy tear gas at occupying protesters

As students persisted in occupying Columbia University's iconic Hamilton Hall, the New York Police Department's Strategic Response Group deployed hundreds of officers outside the campus.

Written by  Annesha Barua -- May 01st 2024 09:04 AM
Police enter Columbia University Campus, deploy tear gas at occupying protesters

Police enter Columbia University Campus, deploy tear gas at occupying protesters

PTC News Desk: Amid escalating tensions, law enforcement officers from the New York Police Department’s Strategic Response Group swarmed Columbia University’s campus, aiming to disperse pro-Palestine demonstrators who had taken over the historic Hamilton Hall.

In a bid to quell the occupation, officers arrested numerous protesters after entering the university grounds. The move came following stern warnings from university authorities, who threatened expulsion for those involved in the anti-Israel occupation of Hamilton Hall, a site deeply entwined with student activism.

After a tense operation lasting over an hour, the New York City Police Department confirmed the successful clearing of Hamilton Hall, asserting that no injuries occurred during the dispersal. Nevertheless, police continued to monitor various locations across the city for any lingering protest activity.

Earlier in the evening, the scene outside the campus was marked by the deployment of hundreds of officers from the Strategic Response Group, with the Mayor of New York City emphasizing the need for swift resolution, declaring, "this must end now." The heightened tensions encapsulated nearly two weeks of discord between Ivy League administrators and pro-Palestinian activists.

The incident at Columbia University adds to a string of similar confrontations across the United States. Since the mass arrests of pro-Palestine demonstrators at Columbia on April 18th, over 1,000 protesters have been apprehended on campuses spanning several states, including Texas, Utah, Virginia, North Carolina, New Mexico, Connecticut, Louisiana, California, and New Jersey.

Here are the latest developments:

1. The latest developments surrounding the Columbia University protest unfold as New York City Police officers entered the campus, issuing stern commands to protesters to "back up" as they commenced dispersal efforts from the premises. The repeated warnings of "back up, or get arrested" marked the beginning of a tense standoff between law enforcement and demonstrators.

2. Prior to the officers' arrival, the New York Police Department received authorization from Columbia University to take action against the occupying protesters, as confirmed by a law enforcement official speaking to The Associated Press.

3. A spokesperson for Columbia University, as reported by CNN, emphasized that the individuals leading the breach into Hamilton Hall were not affiliated with the Ivy League institution. Concerns for community safety and the potential for escalation prompted the university's stance against the unauthorized occupation.

4. In a notice issued on Tuesday evening, the Columbia administration, as per Reuters, reiterated that students involved in the building occupation faced expulsion. Describing the protesters' actions as an escalation of an already precarious situation, the administration emphasized the paramount importance of restoring safety and order on campus.

5. New York City Mayor Eric Adams, addressing reporters, attributed the Hamilton Hall takeover to "outside agitators" lacking affiliation with Columbia, as noted by Reuters. These individuals, known to law enforcement for inciting disorder, were portrayed as instigators of the unrest.

6. The occupation of Hamilton Hall commenced on Tuesday, marked by protesters breaking windows and seizing control of the building. Reuters reported the symbolic gesture of unfurling a banner renaming the hall "Hind's Hall," in honor of a 6-year-old Palestinian child killed in Gaza by the Israeli military.

7. Even as students continued their occupation of Hamilton Hall, support in the form of pizzas and other supplies arrived, delivered in a plastic crate suspended from an upper-floor balcony using a pulley rope.

8. Columbia's response to the protest escalated on Monday with the suspension of students who refused to vacate the campus protest tent site. This action followed days of dialogue aimed at resolving the encampment standoff.

9. The White House condemned the standoffs at Columbia University and California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt, where similar protests occurred. In a statement reported by The Associated Press, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby echoed President Joe Biden's stance, denouncing the occupation of academic buildings as contrary to peaceful protest ideals.

- With inputs from agencies

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