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Police detain pro-Palestinian demonstrators at Columbia University

The arrest of protestors comes a day after Columbia's president answered a hard line of questioning from Congress on antisemitism at the university.
Police detain pro-Palestinian demonstrators at Columbia University
Posted at 3:44 PM, Apr 18, 2024

New York police began arresting pro-Palestinian protesters on Thursday after Columbia University said an encampment formed before dawn on Wednesday on the South Lawn of the university's Morningside Heights campus in Manhattan. 

Just before 4 p.m. ET on Thursday the university said facilities and operations crew members would ensure items left behind by people at the encampment would be "carefully stored" and not discarded." 

Reports said dozens were arrested and at least 50 tents were removed from the area

The New York Times said officers began detaining students just before 1:30 p.m. on Thursday afternoon, a day after university officials testified before Congress on antisemitism. 

Columbia University said the group of over 100 people were notified "numerous times," verbally and in writing, that they were not permitted by university security and leadership to be in the area they were occupying. 

SEE MORE: UN appeals for $2.8 billion for new Palestinian aid

The university said in a notice that "all university students participating in the encampment" were notified that they would be suspended, and said the participants were trespassing after the university's president ordered they be removed. 

Police officers were seen in riot gear putting individuals in the back of detention vehicles, with some protesters wearing keffiyehs in a show of solidarity with Palestinians. 

The protesters were demonstrating in opposition to the current Israel-Hamas war. They are urging the university to divest from financial interests in corporations tied to Israel. 

On Wednesday Columbia University's President Nemat Shafik stood firm in her testimony on Capitol Hill regarding the university's response to antisemitism and what phrases used by activists would be considered harassment. 

Republican Rep. Lisa McClain from Michigan asked if "from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free" or if "long live intifada" are considered antisemitic in Shafik's mind. 

"I hear them as such, some people don't," Shafik responded. 

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