Police enter Columbia University campus to break up pro-Palestinian protest

Police have entered Columbia University to break up a demonstration after pro-Palestinian protesters occupied one of the campus’s buildings.

It comes after New York City Mayor Eric Adams said on Tuesday that the protest “must end now” and claimed the demonstration had been infiltrated by “professional outside agitators”.

The protest began when students barricaded the entrance of the building at Columbia University in New York on Tuesday and unfurled a Palestinian flag out of a window.

Video footage showed protesters on the Manhattan campus locking arms in front of Hamilton Hall and carrying furniture and metal barricades to the building.

A group called Columbia University Apartheid Divest (CUAD) said they had renamed Hamilton Hall to “Hind’s Hall” in honour of Hind Rajab, a six-year-old girl killed in a strike on Gaza in February.

Demonstrators said they planned to remain at the hall until the university conceded to the CUAD’s three demands: divestment, financial transparency and amnesty.

However, officers moved in on the campus on Tuesday night after university bosses wrote to New York City officials and the New York Police Department (NYPD) formally asking for assistance.

A large group of officers dressed in riot gear entered the campus late in the evening. They were later seen entering the window of a university building via a police-branded cherry-picker-style vehicle.

Columbia University earlier threatened academic expulsions for students involved in the protest.

Dozens of people were arrested on Monday during protests at universities in Texas, Utah, Virginia and New Jersey, while Columbia said hours before the takeover of Hamilton Hall that it had started suspending students.

Police moved to clear an encampment at Yale University in Connecticut on Tuesday morning, but there were no immediate reports of arrests.

Meanwhile, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said President Joe Biden believed such demonstrations were “absolutely the wrong approach” and “not an example of peaceful protest”.

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