Columbia University Update: Anti-Israel Protesters at Columbia University

Protesters hang banners on the exterior of the Hamilton Hall building after barricading themselves inside the building at Columbia University.
Protesters hang banners on the exterior of the Hamilton Hall building after barricading themselves inside the building at Columbia University.

A large crowd of masked anti-Israel protesters stormed and took over an academic building at Columbia University early Tuesday, hours after the school finally began suspending students who refused to vacate a tent encampment that had brought campus life to a standstill.

Dozens entered Hamilton Hall and barricaded themselves in before 1 a.m., some using metal barricades, chairs, and tables to block others from entering, footage posted on social media shows.

Read More: Colleges claim that not all protesters arrested are from their campus: ‘Outside groups’

A shocking video shows a violent, hammer-wielding demonstrator smashing two glass windows of a door and placing what looks like a bike lock around the door handles.

According to the student-run Columbia Daily Spectator, some protesters covered security cameras inside the building with tape and black trash bags.

As of 6:30 a.m., protesters remained in the South Lawn building, which has been home to the school’s anti-Israel camp for a week.

anti israel protesters-gesture-window-hamilton-hall

Meanwhile, hundreds of people gathered outside the campus building, with some armed and forming a human chain to block the entrance.

“Hey hey, ho ho, occupation must go,” protesters outside the building can be heard chanting during the wild scenes, according to footage posted to X, an independent news blog.

“We will not give up until Colombia meets every one of our demands,” some protesters declared passionately.

When the group entered the building in the early hours, several campus facilities workers were still there. Some barricades were removed to allow the protesters to go out.

According to the student newspaper, one of the workers yelled, “They’re holding me hostage,” as he stormed out of the building and touched someone’s camera.

Four protesters wearing masks lowered a banner reading “Hind’s Hall” from a window overlooking the cheering crowd.

According to CU Apartheid Divest, a student-led anti-Israel group, the banner stated, “An autonomous group reclaimed Hind’s Hall, previously known as ‘Hamilton Hall,’ in honor of Hind Rajab, a martyr murdered at the hands of the genocidal Israeli state at the age of six years old.”

Hind Rajab, a 6-year-old Palestinian girl, was hit by Israeli gunfire when two paramedics from the Palestine Red Crescent Society tried to rescue her in January.

The bombing happened because an ambulance was “mere meters” away, the Red Crescent said in a statement at the time. The child’s body was found 12 days later in a car riddled with bullet holes.

Columbia University Update: Anti-Israel Protesters at Columbia University

After unfurling the banner, the group in Colombia chanted “Free Palestine”, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and “Colombia, you will see – Palestine is almost free”.

Columbia officials have not publicly addressed the recent surge of violence.

The escalation occurred nearly 12 hours after hundreds of Columbia students ignored the Ivy League’s 2 p.m. deadline to leave their extensive tent encampment. This defiance came after the deadline had been repeatedly extended by the university, which had already switched to virtual classes for the remainder of the semester due to safety concerns.

The university’s president, Minouche Shafik, had previously cautioned students that they would face suspension if they did not vacate the premises. However, it took several hours past the deadline for these penalties to be enforced.

“We have initiated the suspension of students as part of our ongoing efforts to prioritize safety on our campus,” stated Ben Chang, the school’s vice president of public affairs, during a press conference at 5:30 p.m.

The intense escalation at Columbia’s campus coincides with universities across the US facing challenges in dismantling similar encampments.

In contrast to the situation at Columbia, where no arrests were reported, dozens of individuals were detained and taken into custody by law enforcement on Monday during protests at universities in Texas, Utah, and Virginia.

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