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NYPD arrests nearly 100 student anti-war protesters at Columbia, breaks up solidarity encampment

Nearly 100 people were arrested Tuesday night at Columbia University as NYPD officers cleared Hamilton Hall, which had been occupied, and a tent encampment that students established to protest the war in Gaza. The University reached out directly to the NYPD for help removing student protesters, an action that many opposed. Special police units entered Hamilton Hall through a second-story window using a massive truck and a ramp. About 40 people were arrested in the building’s first floor, officers said. The university has asked the NYPD to maintain a presence on campus through at least May 17, two days after the scheduled graduation. Before Columbia called for NYPD’s assistance, law enforcement officials said they believed the protests had been taken over by outside agitators.

Students who oppose the ongoing war and genocide in Gaza united in an outdoor solidarity encampment. Later, many students occupied Hamilton Hall and piled up furniture to prevent entry to the building. These students demand that the University divest from business and partnerships with Israel.

Mayor Eric Adams said shortly after 6 p.m. that the protest “has basically been co-opted by professional outside agitators” who intend to sow chaos. NYPD Commissioner Edward Caban called the occupation of Hamilton Hall and other actions last night and this morning “unacceptable” and said the NYPD was ready to assist the university whenever it asked.

Around 60 people were believed to be in Hamilton Hall after protesters broke windows and took over the building. Police arrived in riot gear to resolve the situation by use of force and the threat of arrest.

Protest encampments to oppose the war in Gaza and show solidarity with Gazans have been occurring at Columbia for around two weeks. Columbia has said that it is a public safety concern and the encampment must be dismantled, but negotiations with students to leave the area have not resulted in its being cleared. Columbia yesterday began suspending students who refused to leave. On April 18, the NYPD was called to campus, broke up an encampment, and made more than 100 arrests, but a second one was then set up.


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