US Campus Protests Escalate: Columbia Students Take over Columbia University Building

A group of students at Columbia University seized control of two buildings. (Photo: via Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine TW Page)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

Columbia University announced on Monday the suspension of several students who refused to comply with a deadline to end the sit-in. 

A group of students at Columbia University seized control of two buildings on Tuesday, marking a new development amid ongoing protests against Israeli aggression in Gaza. 

An unnamed source told Al-Jazeera that the decision was taken by an independent group not directly linked to the ongoing sit-in protests.

The organizer cited frustration with the university’s handling of peaceful demonstrations and its refusal to meet protester demands, including divestment from Israel and amnesty for sanctioned students and faculty. 

The unnamed source also explained that the continued threat of the entry of the National Guard and the New York Police to break up the peaceful sit-in means that the administration is acting in bad faith.

According to the source, one of the buildings was selected due to the historical significance from protests against the Vietnam war in 1968.

Video footage showed protesters on Columbia’s Manhattan campus locking arms in front of Hamilton Hall, which was indeed occupied during a 1968 civil rights and anti-Vietnam war protest on the campus.

Columbia University announced on Monday the suspension of several students who refused to comply with a deadline to end the sit-in. 

University President Nemat Minouche Shafik stated that negotiations with the protesters have reached an impasse, and insisted that the university would not reconsider its investment policies regarding Israel.

Other Campuses

As graduation ceremonies draw near, universities across the United States are facing the challenge of dismantling encampments on their campuses. 

While some institutions are still engaged in negotiations, others have reportedly resorted to force and issued ultimatums, leading to confrontations with law enforcement.

On Monday, numerous students were apprehended during protests at universities in Texas, Utah, and Virginia. Prior to the takeover of Hamilton Hall at Columbia University, the institution had begun suspending students.

At the University of Texas at Austin, legal counsel reported the arrest of at least 40 demonstrators on Monday. This marked an escalation at the 53,000-student campus in the state capital, following the arrest of over 50 protesters the previous week.

Subsequently, at the University of Utah, a sizable contingent of officers in riot gear moved to disband an encampment outside the university president’s office. 

The confrontation unfolded in the afternoon, with police physically removing students and dismantling tents. Seventeen individuals were arrested during this operation.

The pro-Palestine students are calling for a ceasefire and urging their universities to divest from corporations that profit from Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza.

Gaza Genocide

Currently on trial before the International Court of Justice for genocide against Palestinians, Israel has been waging a devastating war on Gaza since October 7.  

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 34,535 Palestinians have been killed, and 77,704 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7.

Moreover, at least 7,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their homes throughout the Strip. 

Palestinian and international organizations say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

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The Israeli war has resulted in an acute famine, mostly in northern Gaza, resulting in the death of many Palestinians, mostly children.  

The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all over the Gaza Strip, with the vast majority of the displaced forced into the densely crowded southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt – in what has become Palestine’s largest mass exodus since the 1948 Nakba. 

Israel says that 1,200 soldiers and civilians were killed during the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation on October 7. Israeli media published reports suggesting that many Israelis were killed on that day by ‘friendly fire’. 


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1 Comment

  1. The arrests of protesting students is a long step towards fascism in the United States. For decades, neoliberals – fascists under another name – have been itching to entirely transform universities into business schools devoid of any humanities content or regard for real political attentiveness and concern. The arrests now mark an epochal strike by the neoliberals/far right in striking at the heart of the American Constitution, the Freedom of Speech Amendment. It is not a long way towards dictatorship under Trump or some other neofascist. We are at an incredibly dangerous pass in the history of our country. The students are heroes. They must be supported. They must be encouraged.

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