US pro-Palestine protest at Columbia University enters final moments: Jail buses, armoured force

The occupation of a building at Columbia University by pro-Palestinian protesters entered its 18th hour when photos and videos circulated among students, revealing a significant police presence outside the campus.

According to news agency Reuters, at least seven jail buses were spotted south of the campus, while New York Police officers stood guard outside the Manhattan campus gates, visible through the railings. Surveillance drones hovered in the dusk sky, capturing the unfolding events.

Police use a special vehicle to enter Hamilton Hall which was occupied by protesters. (Image: Reuters)

Despite ongoing demonstrations, Columbia administrators convened a Zoom meeting with student leaders on Tuesday, which failed to resolve the standoff.

Subsequently, police arrested several people on charges of burglary and trespassing, including at least 30 students, alumni, and Columbia employees, dismantling protest encampments that had garnered widespread attention.

Before police intervention, protesters occupying Hamilton Hall made a public appearance on its balcony, wearing Columbia-logo apparel and black balaclavas. Meanwhile, Columbia had restricted campus access to essential personnel only, prompting creative methods for entry, such as graduate student Sueda Polat’s clandestine passage through a basement.

Protesters link arms outside Columbia University’s Hamilton Hall. (Image: Reuters)

Polat, a lead negotiator for the protesters, engaged in discussions with university administrators, stressing the demand for divestment from companies supporting Israel’s government and military. Despite the administration’s refusal to divest, negotiations persisted until police intervention became imminent.

As tensions escalated, an eyewitness told Reuters that Columbia’s campus resembled an “invading army” with police officers dispersing crowds and securing the area around Hamilton Hall.

Police stand guard near an encampment of protesters supporting Palestinians on the grounds of Columbia University. (Image: Reuters)

The report further stated that Columbia’s southern gates opened at around 9 pm on Friday and scores of police with helmets and armour marched in and arrested the protesters, who were later charged with burglary in the third degree — a class D felony. Others faced charges ranging from assault in the second degree, a class D felony, to criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree, a class A misdemeanour.

Meanwhile, Columbia had announced that the students occupying Hamilton would also face expulsion.

Published By:

Sahil Sinha

Published On:

May 4, 2024

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