108 arrested at pro-Palestinian protest at Columbia University

108 arrested at pro-Palestinian protest at Columbia University
# 19 April 2024 10:39 (UTC +04:00)

More than 100 students have been arrested after police cleared a camp of pro-Palestinian protesters at Columbia University in New York, APA reports citing BBC.

The university's president said that the "extraordinary step" came after multiple warnings and was necessary to provide a safe environment.

Among the participants in the protest was Minnesota politician Ilhan Omar's daughter, who has been suspended.

Protests have rocked US campuses since the Israel-Gaza war began last year.

Demonstrators constructed an encampment of about 50 tents on campus on Wednesday - and overnight hundreds of students and others rallied with them.

More than 100 had occupied the lawns for over 30 hours, in violation of university rules, New York Mayor Eric Adams told a news conference on Thursday.

The demonstrators were joined by independent presidential candidate Cornel West.

In a statement sent to faculty earlier on Thursday, Columbia University president Dr Nemat Shafik said she had hoped her decision to authorise the New York Police Department to clear the encampment would "never be necessary".

"The individuals who established the encampment violated a long list of rules and policies," Dr Shafik said. "Through direct conversations and in writing, the university provided multiple notices of these violations."

Dr Shafik said she regretted that "all of these attempts to resolve the situation were rejected by the students involved".

In total, 108 people were arrested at the protest site. Two received trespass summonses and charges of obstruction of government property.

Police had intervened in protests around the university on Wednesday, as Dr Shafik testified about antisemitism before Congress.

The Columbia Spectator, a student newspaper, reported that the swoop by officers marked the first time mass arrests had been made on campus since Vietnam War protests in 1968.

On X, formerly Twitter, Ilhan Omar's daughter, Isra Hirsi, 21, said she had been suspended from Barnard College for "standing in solidarity with Palestinians facing a genocide" despite never having been reprimanded or disciplined in the three years she has been a student at the private women's university.

Her mother is among the most vocal critics of Israel on Capitol Hill. In 2019 the congresswoman apologised after tweeting that US support for Israel was "all about the Benjamins baby", a slang term for $100 bills, a post that drew accusations of antisemitism.

One of the organisations that organised the protest, Columbia University Apartheid Divest, said that the suspension of Ms Hirsi and the two other students - identified as Maryam Iqbal and Soph Dinu - meant that "they have lost access to their food, housing, and medical centre".

"Two of the three live in student housing and have been illegally locked out with no notice," the statement added, noting that the suspension was effective immediately.

Barnard University told the BBC that it does "not provide information about confidential student conduct proceedings".