Columbia Officials Said They Had ‘No Choice’ But to Call the Police to Clear Protest

Columbia’s president expressed regret about calling in the police to clear a previous protest. On Tuesday, she said she had “no choice” after protesters occupied a building on campus.

Exactly 56 years to the day after the 1968 student occupation at Columbia University was violently cleared by the New York Police Department, hundreds of police officers moved into the Manhattan campus on Tuesday night to quell a different kind of antiwar protest.

Dozens of pro-Palestinian demonstrators were arrested as police officers entered Columbia’s main campus, which was on lockdown, and cleared Hamilton Hall of a group who had broken in and occupied it the night before.

It was a dizzying and, to many students and faculty, disturbing 24 hours on campus.

Last time, students were protesting the Vietnam War and Columbia’s plans to expand its campus into Harlem. This time, students were protesting the Israeli offensive in Gaza that has killed about 34,000 people, according to health officials there, and trying to force the university to divest from companies with ties to Israel.

But the students’ tactics were the same: By escalating their protest to the point where the university was unable to function, students forced the hand of administrators, who brought in the police to arrest them. Both times, the students had occupied Hamilton Hall.

The dozens of arrests on Tuesday were the culmination of two weeks of intense turmoil on Columbia’s campus.

Tensions over pro-Palestinian demonstrations were already high when Nemat Shafik, the Columbia University president, went to Washington, D.C., to testify before a congressional committee on April 17 about antisemitism on campus. Then, while she was in Washington, a group of pro-Palestinian demonstrators set up a large tent encampment in front of Butler Library on the university’s main quad to demand that the university divest from Israel.

We are having trouble retrieving the article content.

Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.

Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.

Thank you for your patience while we verify access.

Already a subscriber? Log in.

Want all of The Times? Subscribe.

This post was originally published on NY Times

Share your love