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Photo Credit: C.S. Muncy/The New York Times/Redux

NYPD arrested over 100 people during a pro-Palestinian protest at Columbia University

Mayor Eric Adams stated that over a hundred people were apprehended by the New York City Police Department (NYPD) during a pro-Palestinian rally on the Columbia institution campus after the president of the institution had requested their removal.

Tensions rose when university president Nemat “Minouche” Shafik and other top officials from Columbia University testified before Congress on antisemitism and school atmosphere in the context of the Israel-Hamas crisis. The South Lawn of the university was seized by more than a hundred demonstrators when the New York Police Department (NYPD) stepped in, as mentioned in Shafik’s appeal to Deputy Commissioner Michael Gerber. As Mayor Adams pointed out, it had been more than 30 hours since the demonstrators had arrived.

At a news conference this evening, authorities announced the arrests and said that the suspects had been served trespassing summonses; two people were also charged with obstruction of governmental administration.

The incident occurred amid the implementation of a new policy in February, designating specific areas for protests requiring prior notice. Protesters had begun setting up camp on the campus before dawn on Wednesday, demanding the university’s divestment from economic and academic ties with Israel.

On Wednesday at the congressional session, Shafik reaffirmed the university’s resolve to quell unapproved demonstrations. Then, the school threatened punishment for any kids who stayed at the campsite.

Mayor Adams underscored students’ right to free speech but emphasized the necessity of compliance with university policies to maintain an environment conducive to learning.

Cops from the New York Police Department tried to disperse the protesters, which sparked an altercation that ultimately resulted in arrests. There were further verbal confrontations and small fights with law police during competing demonstrations by pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian organizations.

Aside from sparking discussions about free speech and university activism, the event brought attention to the continuing tensions between Israel and Hamas.

Controversies surrounding Shafik’s decision to permit NYPD action have ignited discussions over the delicate equilibrium between maintaining campus order and honoring students’ rights to demonstrate.

The university has not commented on the matter. More people are talking about how to make campus secure and welcoming after this situation for its response to antisemitic and Islamophobic attacks.

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