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Columbia University Seized

Anti-Israel protesters camping at Columbia University stormed the administrative building in the early hours. Barricades were carried into Hamilton Hall and glass doors were smashed. Pro Palestine posters were hung from the windows. An ANTIFADA flag was hung, desecrating the building. The seizure came after the university suspended students that didn’t leave by 2 pm.

Encampments at the university

The activity started April 17. The following day several students were suspended and hundreds involved in the protesting were arrested.

The group Within Our Lifetime (WOL) Palestine posted on their Telegram channel, “Student organizers have called on everyone to come to Columbia TONIGHT and defend the encampment after administration’s threats this morning.” Chants of “Disclose. Divest. We will not stop, we will not rest” could be heard as the glass doors of Hamilton Hall were being smashed.

The ANTIFADA banner being hung was accompanied with chants of “Free, free, free, free, Palestine. From the river to the sea…”  The initial encampment had been removed but it returned.

This university might have been the start

Several other colleges have joined the protest such as University of California Los Angeles, Yale University, Harvard University, George Washington University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A worker might have been held hostage when the doors were barricaded at Hamilton Hall.

The Columbia Spectator noted that the protesters began “moving metal gates to barricade the doors, blocking entrances with wooden tables and chairs, and zip-tying doors shut.” Many of the protesters wore masks and locked arms to form a human barricade.

Hamilton Hall was renamed “Hind’s Hall” after the six year old Hind Rajab that was killed in Israel’s war with Hamas. The protest caught the eyes and ears of the federal government.

Student demands for the university

Three things are being asked for: remove all financial support of Israel, become more transparent about what is supported and provide amnesty for all who have participated in the protest. Almost two dozen House Democrats joined Republicans in demanding the college end the encampments.

The group of 21, including former Majority Leader Steny Hoyer sent a letter to the trustees that this was a violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act because it created a hazardous learning environment for Jewish students. A rabbi warned Jewish students to go home for their safety.

The college had to shift to remote learning and hybrid classes. The administration tried to negotiate but it wouldn’t meet one of the students’ demands of removing financial support.

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