Wednesday 1 May 2024

Anti-Israel Protesters At Columbia Take Over Campus Building, Barricade Themselves Inside

 Anti-Israel student protesters barricaded themselves inside a Columbia University campus building on Tuesday morning, demanding that the university take action to divest from Israel amid its war with Hamas. 

The protesters took over Hamilton Hall after the university began to suspend some students who have taken part in a weeks-long anti-Israel encampment on campus. According to the Columbia University Apartheid Divest group, Hamilton Hall was taken over by an “autonomous group” seeking “divestment, financial transparency, and amnesty.” 

“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,” the group said. “Resistance is justified in the movement for liberation.”

Photos of the occupation show protesters using tables and chairs to block doors while one person smashes a window with a hammer. 

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 29: A demonstrator breaks the windows of the front door of the building in order to secure a chain around it to prevent authorities from entering on Tuesday, April 30, 2024 in New York City. Demonstrators from the pro-Palestine encampment on Columbia's Campus barricade themselves inside Hamilton Hall, an academic building which has been occupied in past student movements,. Pro-Palestinian demonstrators marched around the "Gaza Solidarity Encampment" at Columbia University as a 2 P.M. deadline to clear the encampment given to students by the university passed. The students were given a suspension warning if they do not meet the deadline. Columbia students were the first to erect an encampment in support of Palestine, with students demanding that the school divest from Israel amid the Israel-Hamas war, where more than 34,000 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip.

Credit: Photo by Alex Kent/Getty Images.

“We are grateful for the brave students and community members who put themselves in harm’s way to protest Columbia’s complicity. Taking over a building is a small risk compared to the daily resistance of Palestinians in Gaza,” CU Apartheid Divest said. 

A facility worker who was in the building yelled “They held me hostage” as he left Hamilton Hall around 12:40 a.m., according to Campus Reform, minutes after the protesters stormed the building.

Other video showed students walking into Hamilton Hall carrying barriers to use to block entrance into the building.

Columbia texted students, instructing them to avoid the Hamilton Hall area due to “major protest activity,” the Washington Post reported. 

Khymani James, the leader of CU Apartheid Divest, was banned last week from Columbia’s campus after The Daily Wire reported on comments he made saying that “Zionists don’t deserve to live.”

“Zionists don’t deserve to live comfortably, let alone Zionists don’t deserve to live,” he said earlier this year. “The same way we are very comfortable accepting Nazis don’t deserve to live, fascists don’t deserve to live, racists don’t deserve to live, Zionists, they shouldn’t live in this world.”

The occupation of Hamilton Hall is the latest step taken by anti-Israel protesters after weeks of camping out and demonstrations on campus. 


Columbia President Minouche Shafik said on Monday that the university had not been able to reach an agreement for the group to disband its camp. Shafik added that Columbia would not be divesting from Israel. 

“To that end, since Wednesday, a small group of academic leaders has been in constructive dialogue with student organizers to find a path that would result in the dismantling of the encampment and adherence to University policies going forward. Regretfully, we were not able to come to an agreement,” she said. 

Similar anti-Israel protests have cropped up around the country, including in states like California, Utah, Texas, and Virginia. 

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