Columbia Students Occupy Building as Protests Spread

Arrests made at pro-Palestinian demonstrations at multiple colleges
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 30, 2024 6:07 AM CDT
Protesters at Columbia Occupy a Building
Police pepper spray pro-Palestinian protesters blocking police vehicles from leaving the University of Texas in Austin, Texas, Monday, April 29, 2024.   (Aaron E. Martinez/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

Dozens of protesters took over a building at Columbia University in New York early Tuesday, barricading the entrances and unfurling a Palestinian flag out of a window in the latest escalation of demonstrations against the Israel-Hamas war that have spread to college campuses nationwide. Video footage showed protesters on Columbia's Manhattan campus locking arms in front of Hamilton Hall early Tuesday and carrying furniture and metal barricades to the building, one of several that was occupied during a 1968 civil rights and anti-Vietnam War protest on the campus, per the AP.

  • Three demands: In an X post, protesters with the group CU Apartheid Divest said they planned to remain at the hall until the university conceded to their three demands: divestment, financial transparency, and amnesty. They also said they had renamed the building "Hind's Hall" in homage to a 6-year-old Palestinian girl who was killed in Gaza.

  • Defying deadline: The student radio station, WKCR-FM, broadcast a play-by-play of the hall's takeover—which occurred nearly 12 hours after Monday's 2pm deadline for the protesters to leave an encampment of around 120 tents or face suspension.
  • Avoiding campus: Representatives for the university did not immediately respond to emails requesting comment, but Public Safety said in a statement that members of the university community who can avoid coming to the Morningside campus Tuesday should do so, adding that essential personnel should report to work.
  • Texas: At the University of Texas at Austin, an attorney said at least 40 demonstrators were arrested Monday. The confrontation was an escalation on the 53,000-student campus in the state's capital, where more than 50 protesters were arrested last week.
  • Utah: Later Monday, dozens of officers in riot gear at the University of Utah sought to break up an encampment outside the university president's office that went up in the afternoon. Police dragged students off by their hands and feet, snapping the poles holding up tents and zip-tying those who refused to disperse. Seventeen people were arrested. The university says it's against code to camp overnight on school property and that the students were given several warnings to disperse.
  • Virginia, elsewhere: Police in riot gear at Virginia Commonwealth University sought to break up an encampment there late Monday and clashed with protesters. Elsewhere, students dug in their heels at other high-profile universities, with standoffs continuing at Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, Yale, and others.
(More 2024 campus protests stories.)

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