Fury as Columbia University protesters stage insurrection-like takeover of Hamilton Hall after ignoring deadline to leave encampment.. but will they be arrested?

Fury as Columbia University protesters stage insurrection-like takeover of Hamilton Hall after ignoring deadline to leave encampment.. but will they be arrested?

A group of anti-Israel protesters at Columbia University have seized the historic Hamilton Hall, smashing windows, unfurling an intifada banner, and are refusing to leave, with their actions being compared to the January 6 insurrection. 

Protestors stormed and occupied the building on the main campus of the Manhattan university after smashing their way into the school. 

The occupation came nearly 12 hours after the deadline of 2pm on Monday for protestors to leave their protest encampment or face suspension.  

Due to the takeover, the school issued a stay away notice for members of staff telling them to avoid the Morningside campus on Tuesday morning.

They then limited access to the area to students residing in residential buildings on campus and essential employees only, and have yet to expel or arrest any of the students responsible.

Since footage of the takeover was shared on social media, users have been comparing the scenes to that of the January 6 riots in 2021 when Donald Trump supporters overran the US Capitol.

Outdoor furniture and ropes secure the front entrance of Hamilton Hall, which student protesters barricaded

Student protesters sit and watch outside Hamilton Hall on Tuesday morning

Student protesters sit and watch outside Hamilton Hall on Tuesday morning

The occupation came nearly 12 hours after the deadline of 2pm on Monday for protestors to leave their protest encampment or face suspension

The occupation came nearly 12 hours after the deadline of 2pm on Monday for protestors to leave their protest encampment or face suspension

A group of students advocating for Palestine at Columbia University stage a demonstration and block the entrance of iconic Hamilton Hall. Students draped a banner that read 'Hind's Hall' in honor of Hind Rajab, 6, who died in Gaza in January

A group of students advocating for Palestine at Columbia University stage a demonstration and block the entrance of iconic Hamilton Hall. Students draped a banner that read ‘Hind’s Hall’ in honor of Hind Rajab, 6, who died in Gaza in January

Demonstrators begin building a barricade inside of Hamilton Hall

Demonstrators begin building a barricade inside of Hamilton Hall 

University President Nemat Minouche Shafik said in a statement that days of negotiations between student organizers and academic leaders had failed to persuade demonstrators to remove the dozens of tents set up to express opposition to Israel’s war in Gaza

Insurrectionists loyal to President Donald Trump try to break through a police barrier, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington

Insurrectionists loyal to President Donald Trump try to break through a police barrier, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington

The students stormed the building located along the South Lawn, which has been the scene of the university's anti-Israel encampment for over a week

The students stormed the building located along the South Lawn, which has been the scene of the university’s anti-Israel encampment for over a week

One user posted: ‘Pro-Hamas student thugs @Columbia smashed their way into Hamilton Hall and are reportedly barricading themselves inside. Looks like an insurrection to me.’

Another posted: ‘Looks like a scene from Jan 6.’

‘We will not leave until Columbia meets every one of our demands,’ one activist screamed from a balcony in the building. The group has demanded that the university divest from Israel.

According to the Columbia Spectator, the group who made it inside the building threw their belongings aside before beginning their immediate efforts to barricade themselves inside.

Images from the mass demonstration show sleeping bags, coats, rucksacks and blankets strewn across the ground and piled up in front of doors. 

The students stormed the building located along the South Lawn, which has been the scene of the university’s anti-Israel encampment for over a week. 

They quickly climbed the stairs, dragging down tables and chairs from classrooms which they then used to barricade the doors from the inside.

The building was locked down in less than five minutes, according to the student publication, and protesters allowed no one to enter. 

New York representative Ritchie Torres reacted to video footage of protestors smashing their way into the building on social media. 

The congressman added: ‘So much for ‘peaceful protests’ at Columbia University. 

‘Violence is not a bug but a feature of the pro-Hamas encampment movement, which has a deep rot of Anti-Americanism and Anti-Semitism at its core.’

Representative Elise Stefanik said at a press conference: ‘The world is watching as the leadership of our so-called elite colleges and universities continue to fail to condemn antisemitism and protect Jewish students on campus.

‘Just look at that abject failure of Columbia’s president to enforce their own code of conduct that they gave lip service to during the recent Education and Workforce hearing.

‘Last night, the pro-Hamas, anti-Semitic mob took over an academic building. The university leadership has lost complete control.

‘It is a disagree, and it is untenable and we as house Republicans will hold them to account.’

Pro-Palestine protestors are seen here gathering on the front steps of the hall on Tuesday morning

Pro-Palestine protestors are seen here gathering on the front steps of the hall on Tuesday morning

Since footage of the takeover was shared on social media, users have been comparing the scenes to that of the January 6 insurrection

Since footage of the takeover was shared on social media, users have been comparing the scenes to that of the January 6 insurrection

Due to the takeover, the school issued a stay away notice for members of staff telling them to avoid the Morningside campus on Tuesday morning

Due to the takeover, the school issued a stay away notice for members of staff telling them to avoid the Morningside campus on Tuesday morning

Due to the limited access, students and faculty lined up to enter the campus on Tuesday

Due to the limited access, students and faculty lined up to enter the campus on Tuesday 

Students with the Gaza solidarity encampment block the entrance of Hamilton Hall

Students with the Gaza solidarity encampment block the entrance of Hamilton Hall

The crackdown at Columbia, at the center of Gaza-related protests roiling university campuses across the U.S. in recent weeks, occurred as police at the University of Texas at Austin arrested dozens of students whom they doused with pepper spray at a pro-Palestinian rally

The crackdown at Columbia, at the center of Gaza-related protests roiling university campuses across the U.S. in recent weeks, occurred as police at the University of Texas at Austin arrested dozens of students whom they doused with pepper spray at a pro-Palestinian rally

Columbia sent a letter on Monday morning warning that students who did not vacate the encampment by 2 p.m. ET and sign a form promising to abide by university policies would face suspension and become ineligible to complete the semester in good standing

Columbia sent a letter on Monday morning warning that students who did not vacate the encampment by 2 p.m. ET and sign a form promising to abide by university policies would face suspension and become ineligible to complete the semester in good standing

A banner draped from a balcony read 'Hind's Hall'

Hind Rajab, 6, died in Gaza in January

The apparent  ‘renaming’ of the building was a nod to Hind Rajab. Her body was found riddled with bullets 12 days after two paramedics from the Palestine Red Crescent Society had tried to rescue her from alleged Israeli gunfire in January. The two medics were killed moments before reaching the vehicle she was trapped in

New York representative Ritchie Torres reacted to video footage of protestors smashing their way into the building on social media

New York representative Ritchie Torres reacted to video footage of protestors smashing their way into the building on social media

The White House denounced the takeover of the Columbia University building as ‘absolutely the wrong approach’ that is ‘not an example of peaceful protest.’

John Kirby, a spokesman for President Biden, told reporters: ‘A small percentage of students shouldn’t be able to disrupt the academic experience and the legitimate study for the rest of the student body.

‘Students paying to go to school and wanting an education ought to able to do that without disruption.’

A statement from Biden’s deputy press secretary Andrew Bates added: ‘President Biden has stood against repugnant, Antisemitic smears and violent rhetoric his entire life.

‘He condemns the use of the term “intifada” as he has the other tragic and dangerous hate speech displayed in recent days. 

‘President Biden respects the right to free expression, but protests must be peaceful and lawful.  Forcibly taking over buildings is not peaceful – it is wrong. And hate speech and hate symbols have no place in America.’ 

On Tuesday afternoon, University spokesperson Ben Chang said in a statement that students occupying the building face expulsion. 

Chang said:’Protestors have chosen to escalate to an untenable situation- vandalizing property, breaking doors and windows, and blockading entrances – and we are following through with the consequences we outlined yesterday. 

‘Students occupying the building face expulsion. Students who did not commit tot eh terms we offered are now being suspended. 

‘Those students will be restricted from all academic and recreational spaces and may only access their individual residence. Senior will be ineligible to graduate.’ 

A person wearing keffiyeh sits next to a window at Hamilton Hall in Columbia University

A person wearing keffiyeh sits next to a window at Hamilton Hall in Columbia University

A person with keffiyeh draped over their shoulders walks past Hamilton Hall on Tuesday morning

A person with keffiyeh draped over their shoulders walks past Hamilton Hall on Tuesday morning

Protesters blocked security cameras inside the building with black trash bags and tape, and according to a source from within the building, at least three facility workers remained inside until 1am.

‘Several individuals, including the Facilities workers, left the building around 1:10 a.m. after protesters removed the barricades blocking one door, rebolting it after the workers left,’ the student paper reported. 

One of the workers yelled, ‘They held me hostage’ as he left the building and smacked somebody’s camera, according to the newspaper.

Hundreds of others gathered outside the building and some linked arms to form a human chain blocking the entrance.

‘We will not leave until Columbia meets every one of our demands,’ the protesters said in a directed chant.

Due to the limited access, students and faculty lined up to enter the campus on Tuesday but were repeatedly denied access. 

Jeremy Wahl, a senior at the School of General Studies and his wife Taylor Francisco, a graduate student were denied access to the dining hall where they go to eat. 

Wahl told the New York Times: ‘I’m a low income student. We depend on my low-income meal plan to get food every morning. We’re being denied the basic amenities of the university.’

After reaching out to administrators at the university, he was informed he could go to different campuses which were open for dining.  

Masked student protesters were seen carrying tables and chairs from classrooms before using them to barricade the doors

Masked student protesters were seen carrying tables and chairs from classrooms before using them to barricade the doors

Furniture from within Hamilton Hall was stacked in top of each other in the students' barricading efforts

Furniture from within Hamilton Hall was stacked in top of each other in the students’ barricading efforts

Hundreds of demonstrators, many wearing traditional Palestinian keffiyeh scarves, marched around the perimeter of the encampment chanting, 'Disclose! Divest! We will not stop, we will not rest'

Hundreds of demonstrators, many wearing traditional Palestinian keffiyeh scarves, marched around the perimeter of the encampment chanting, ‘Disclose! Divest! We will not stop, we will not rest’

Massive tables were used to block the doors. The building was locked down in less than five minutes, according to the Columbia Spectator, the student newspaper, and protesters allowed no one to enter

Massive tables were used to block the doors. The building was locked down in less than five minutes, according to the Columbia Spectator, the student newspaper, and protesters allowed no one to enter

Students used wooden beams to barricade the doors

Students used wooden beams to barricade the doors

Jay Edelson, the attorney representing an anonymous Columbia University student, told On Balance with Leland Vittert on NewsNation that complacency by academic institutions had caused the protests. 

Edelson said: ‘There are straight out calls for the genocide of Jews. This has happened because of complacency and appeasement by our academic institutions.

‘The difference is, this isn’t the 1930s. We’re not in Germany. We’re going to stand up and we’re going to fight back.

‘We filed this class action lawsuit, and we’re not going to sit by the sidelines. This is not going to happen again.The idea that schools are negotiating with these people is insane.’

Four protesters wearing masks over their heads lowered a banner reading ‘Hind’s Hall’ from a window overlooking the crowd who cheered its unraveling, according to a clip posted to X.

The apparent renaming of the building was in honor of Hind Rajab, a 6-year-old Palestinian girl who was slaughtered in Gaza alongside two paramedics from the Palestinian Red Crescent Society who had attempted to rescue her in January.

The little girl was inside the vehicle that had allegedly been the target of several rounds of Israeli gunfire.

She had called for help, her final words reportedly being: ‘Come and get me, the tank is very close,’ but the ambulance was bombed ‘just metres’ away from the vehicle, the Red Crescent said in a statement at the time.

Hind’s body was found riddled with bullets 12 days later inside the car, alongside her dead family members.

Images from within the Hamilton Hall show how furious protesters stacked two metal tables that had originally been placed outside of Hartley Hall on top of each other and bound them to the doors with rope and zip ties.

At around 1.28am, the protesters draped a Palestinian flag from a window on the third floor of the building before using newspapers to cover windows and doors. 

A banner was then dropped from the leftmost side of Hamilton Hall, reading ‘Gaza Calls Columbia Falls.’ 

The crackdown at Columbia, at the center of Gaza-related protests roiling university campuses across the US in recent weeks, occurred as police at the University of Texas at Austin arrested dozens of students whom they doused with pepper spray at a pro-Palestinian rally.

Local police confirmed that 79 people were arrested at the protests in Texas, 78 of them being charged with criminal trespassing, one with interfering with public duties. 

Columbia sent a letter on Monday morning warning that students who did not vacate the encampment by 2pm ET and sign a form promising to abide by university policies would face suspension and become ineligible to complete the semester in good standing. 

Earlier, Shafik said Columbia would not divest from finances in Israel, a key demand of the protesters. Instead, she offered to invest in health and education in Gaza and make Columbia’s direct investment holdings more transparent. 

Protesters link arms outside Hamilton Hall barricading students inside the building at Columbia University, despite an order to disband the protest encampment supporting Palestinians or face suspension

Protesters link arms outside Hamilton Hall barricading students inside the building at Columbia University, despite an order to disband the protest encampment supporting Palestinians or face suspension

Demonstrators supporting Palestinians in Gaza barricade themselves inside Hamilton Hall, where the office of the Dean is located on April 30, 2024 in New York City

Demonstrators supporting Palestinians in Gaza barricade themselves inside Hamilton Hall, where the office of the Dean is located on April 30, 2024 in New York City

Protesters use outdoor tables to barricade the entrance to Hamilton Hall after other student protesters barricaded themselves inside the building at Columbia University

Protesters have vowed to keep their encampment on the Manhattan campus until Columbia meets three demands: divestment, transparency in university finances, and amnesty for students and faculty disciplined for their part in the protests.

‘These repulsive scare tactics mean nothing compared to the deaths of over 34,000 Palestinians. We will not move until Columbia meets our demands or we are moved by force,’ leaders of the Columbia Student Apartheid Divest coalition said in a statement read at a news conference following the deadline.

Hundreds of demonstrators, many wearing traditional Palestinian keffiyeh scarves, marched around the perimeter of the encampment chanting, ‘Disclose! Divest! We will not stop, we will not rest.’

Shafik faced an outcry from many students, faculty and outside observers for summoning New York City police two weeks ago to clear the protest camp.

After more than 100 arrests were made, students restored the encampment on a hedge-lined lawn of the university grounds within days of the April 18 police action.

Since then, students at dozens of campuses from California to New England have set up similar encampments to demonstrate their anger over the Israeli operation in Gaza and the perceived complicity of their schools in it.

This is not the first time the historic Hamilton Hall has been targeted and occupied by student protesters.

Hamilton Hall was also taken over by student protesters in April 1968 as they were angry about racism and the Vietnam War

Hamilton Hall was also taken over by student protesters in April 1968 as they were angry about racism and the Vietnam War

Part of some estimated 300 students at Columbia University are shown milling around Hamilton Hall on the campus in New York, April 24, 1968

Part of some estimated 300 students at Columbia University are shown milling around Hamilton Hall on the campus in New York, April 24, 1968

Starting at noon on April 23, 1968, student militants occupied Hamilton Hall, the main classroom building, and took a dean hostage for 24 hours. 

They stormed into the office of the university’s president, ransacked files and smoked his cigars – angry about racism and the Vietnam War. 

Over the next few days, hundreds of students would seize a total of five campus buildings.

The occupation attracted global attention. Black militant leaders Stokely Carmichael and H. Rap Brown visited the protesters. China’s Chairman Mao Zedong sent a telegram.

Then, early on April 30, a thousand police officers swept in and cleared out the rebels.

‘In the club swinging, fist fighting, pushing and kneeing that marked the violent subjugation,’ The Associated Press reported at the time. 

One hundred students and 15 police officers were injured, while cops made 700 arrests.

The recent pro-Palestinian rallies have sparked intense campus debate over where school officials should draw the line between freedom of expression and hate speech. 

Students protesting Israel’s military offensive in Gaza, including some Jewish peace activists, have said they are being censured as antisemitic merely for criticizing the Israeli government or for expressing support for Palestinian rights.

Other Jewish groups counter that anti-Israel rhetoric frequently delves into or feeds overt forms of anti-Jewish hatred and calls for violence, and thus should not be tolerated.



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