Dozens of pro-Palestinian protesters at Columbia University arrested


Dozens of pro-Palestinian demonstrators have been arrested after they were holed-up in an academic building on Columbia University campus late on Tuesday.

New York Police removed the protest encampment the Ivy League school had sought to dismantle for nearly two weeks

Shortly after police moved in, Columbia University President Minouche Shafik released a letter in which she requested police stay on campus until at least May 17 - two days after graduation - "to maintain order and ensure that encampments are not re-established".

Within three hours the campus had been cleared of protesters, said a police spokesperson, adding "dozens" of arrests were made.

At the start of the police operation around 9:00 pm ET throngs of helmeted police marched onto the campus, a focal point of student rallies that have spread to dozens of schools across the US in recent days expressing opposition to Israel's war in Gaza.

Soon after, a long line of officers climbed into Hamilton Hall, an academic building that protesters had broken into and occupied in the early morning hours of Tuesday. Police entered through a second-story window, using a police vehicle equipped with a ladder.

Students standing outside the hall jeered police with shouts of "Shame, shame!"

Police were seen loading dozens of detainees onto a bus, each with their hands bound behind their backs by zip-ties, the entire scene illuminated with flashing red and blue lights of police vehicles.

Protesters were seeking three demands from Columbia: divestment from companies supporting Israel's government, greater transparency in university finances, and amnesty for students and faculty disciplined over the protests.

President Shafik this week said Columbia would not divest from finances in Israel. Instead, she offered to invest in health and education in Gaza and make Columbia's direct investment holdings more transparent.

In her letter released on Tuesday, Shafik said the Hamilton Hall occupiers had vandalised University property and were trespassing, and that encampment protesters were suspended for trespassing. The university earlier warned that students taking part in the Hamilton Hall occupation faced academic expulsion.

The October 7 attack on southern Israel by Hamas militants from Gaza, and the ensuing Israeli offensive on the Palestinian enclave, have unleashed the biggest outpouring of US student activism since the anti-racism protests of 2020.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators also gathered at City College New York in Harlem late Tuesday, with the university ordering individuals off the campus, New York Police Department Deputy Commissioner Kaz Daughtry said in an X post. Dozens of protesters were arrested, the New York Times reported.

Daughtry also said the university had requested police presence to assist in dispersing trespassers.

The Chancellor at the University of California in Los Angeles said late Tuesday that law enforcement was engaged to investigate "recent acts of violence" by a group of demonstrators and increased security in the area.

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