update deskSchools & Higher Education

Several hundred NYPD officers clearing students from Columbia building

"Smashing windows with hammers and taking over university buildings is not free speech," the Senate majority leader said earlier in the day.

Police car. Credit: tevenet/Pixabay.
Police car. Credit: tevenet/Pixabay.

Several hundred New York City police officers entered Columbia University’s Morningside Heights campus in Manhattan on Tuesday night to remove students who illegally occupied the academic building Hamilton Hall.

The New York Post reported that NYPD officers lined up with zip-tie handcuffs shortly after 9 p.m. and that dozens of students were subsequently arrested. Fox News reported that officers gained access to the building through windows.

The university “issued a shelter-in-place for students over ‘heightened activity’ at the Morningside campus—and warned that those who do not abide will be hit with ‘disciplinary action,'” the Post reported.

Faculty members criticized the university administration for calling in the police. “Columbia faculty have spent the day offering our help to defuse the situation on Columbia’s campus and have been rebuffed or ignored,” the school’s American Association of University Professors chapter stated.

“We have been locked out of our campus and have demanded to be allowed back in and have been rebuffed or ignored,” it said. “This is not new. Columbia faculty have attempted for the past two weeks to intervene in the situation, only to be shut out by senior university leadership.”

“NYPD presence in our neighborhood endangers our entire community,” they added. “Armed police entering our campus places students and everyone else on campus at risk.”

New York City Mayor Eric Adams accused “external actors” of “attempting to hijack” the “peaceful” protest earlier in the day.

Earlier in the day, students broke into the building and occupied it. They later said that the university ought to feed them too. “It seems like you’re saying, ‘We want to be revolutionaries, we want to take over this building, now would you please bring us some food,'” a reported asked a spokeswoman for the group.

“The revolution will be … catered?” wrote David Lat, founder of Above the Law.

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) spoke on the Senate floor about the protests.

“Smashing windows with hammers and taking over university buildings is not free speech—it is lawlessness, and those who did it should promptly face the consequences that are not merely a slap on the wrist,” Schumer said.

“It is also unacceptable when Jewish students are targeted for being Jewish—when protests exhibit verbal abuse, systemic intimidation or glorification of the murderous and hateful Hamas or the violence of Oct. 7,” he added.

Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House Press secretary, was asked about the protests at Columbia on Monday.

“Obviously, we believe and we have said antisemitism is dangerous, it is hate speech, and it is abhorrent. And there is no place for antisemitism on campuses or any—anywhere else,” Jean-Pierre said, per an official White House transcript.
“It is a painful moment. We get that. We get that it is a painful moment that Americans are dealing with,” she added. “Free expression has to be done within the law. And, you know, we’re going to continue to be very clear about that. That has not changed. We’ve been very consistent.”

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