Columbia University cleared of pro-Palestinian protesters, dozens arrested

Students standing outside hall jeer police with shouts of "Shame, shame!"

NEW YORK (Reuters): New York City police arrested dozens of pro-Palestinian demonstrators holed-up in an academic building on Columbia University campus late on Tuesday.

The police also removed a protest encampment the Ivy League school had sought to dismantle for nearly two weeks.

Shortly after police moved in, Columbia University President Minouche Shafik released a letter in which she requested police stay on campus until at least May 17 – two days after graduation – “to maintain order and ensure that encampments are not re-established.”

Within three hours the campus had been cleared of protesters, said a police spokesperson, adding “dozens” of arrests were made.

At the start of the police operation around 9 p.m. ET throngs of helmeted police marched onto the elite campus in upper Manhattan, a focal point of student rallies that have spread to dozens of schools across the U.S. in recent days expressing opposition to Israel’s war in Gaza.

“We’re clearing it out,” the police officers yelled.

Soon after, a long line of officers climbed into Hamilton Hall, an academic building that protesters had broken into and occupied in the early morning hours of Tuesday. Police entered through a second-story window, using a police vehicle equipped with a ladder.

Students standing outside the hall jeered police with shouts of “Shame, shame!”

Police were seen loading dozens of detainees onto a bus, each with their hands bound behind their backs by zip-ties, the entire scene illuminated with flashing red and blue lights of police vehicles.

“Free, free, free Palestine,” chanted protesters outside the building. Others yelled “Let the students go.”

“Columbia will be proud of these students in five years,” said Sueda Polat, one of the student negotiators for Columbia University Apartheid Divest, the coalition of student groups that has organized the protests.

She said students did not pose a danger and called on police to back down, speaking as officers shouted at her and others to retreat or leave campus.

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