Police arrest protesters at Columbia University who had set up pro-Palestinian encampment


NEW YORK (AP) — New York police arrested protesters at Columbia University on Thursday who had set up a pro-Palestinian encampment on campus.

Several students involved in the protest said they were also suspended from Columbia and Barnard College, including Isra Hirsi, who is the daughter of U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat. The congresswoman had questioned Columbia’s president, Nemat Shafik, about the school’s targeting of pro-Palestinian protestersat a hearing on Wednesday.

Protest organizers said Hirsi also was among those arrested.

The students have been protesting on campus since early Wednesday, demanding the school divest from companies they claim “profit from Israeli apartheid” and the Israeli military action in Gaza.

Shafik issued a statement saying the school had warned protesters on Wednesday that they would be suspended if the encampment was not removed. School officials made the decision Thursday to call in police and clear out the demonstrators.

“The individuals who established the encampment violated a long list of rules and policies,” she wrote. “Through direct conversations and in writing, the university provided multiple notices of these violations, including a written warning at 7:15 p.m. on Wednesday notifying students who remained in the encampment as of 9:00 p.m. that they would face suspension pending investigation.”

Shafik also said the university tried through several channels “to engage with their concerns and offered to continue discussions if they agreed to disperse.”

The school said it was still identifying students involved in the protest Thursday and added more suspensions would be forthcoming.

Police acknowledged they moved in and made numerous arrests Thursday afternoon and were removing the tents put up by the protesters. They could not say how many people had been arrested or any charges they might face.

Protest organizers decried the universities actions.

“We demand full amnesty for all students disciplined for their involvement in the encampment or the movement for Palestinian liberation,” Rosy Fitzgerald, a spokesperson for the Institute for Middle East Understanding, said in a statement.

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