Activists set up 'Liberated Zone' on Columbia University campus, refuse to leave until Palestine is ‘free’

Students began setting their tents up at around 4 am. Around 60 tents were set up, with two large signs stating "Liberated Zone" and "Gaza Solidarity Encampment" being put on display.

Hannah Nightingale Washington DC

Students at New York City’s Columbia University set up a "Liberated Zone" on Wednesday to protest the Israel-Hamas war.

According to the New York Daily News, students said the "Gaza Solidarity Encampment" would remain in the university’s main lawn until their demand that the school divest Columbia’s finances from companies and institutions that work with Israel is met by the administration.

"The presence of tents on South Lawn is a safety concern and a violation of university policies," a university spokesperson said. "We are informing the students they are in violation of university policies and for their own safety and for the operations of the university they need to leave."

Students began setting their tents up at around 4 am. Around 60 tents were set up, with two large signs stating "Liberated Zone" and "Gaza Solidarity Encampment" being put on display, the Daily Mail reported. Officials handed out papers to students informing them they may face suspension if they don’t leave by midday.

One of the protestors, Catherine Elias, told the Columbia Spectator the students "won’t be moved until they meet our demands and that our demands are in the path and carrying the movement that has been set on this campus for over 60 years since 1968 to the 1980s to the ’90s to 2024 today."

"The anti-apartheid movement and student organizing struggle at Columbia has been alive and well for over 60 years, and we carry all of those organizers with us as we come here today," Elias said.

In footage captured by FreedomNews.TV, protestors chanted "down down with occupation, up up with liberation," and "when Palestinians are oppressed, boycott, sanction, and divest."

The protestors also chanted "shame on you" toward a man carrying an Israel flag.

The protest came as Columbia University President Nemat Shafik testified before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on antisemitism on campus.

"Columbia strives to be a community free of discrimination and hate in all its forms and we condemn the antisemitism that is so pervasive today," she said, according to the Wall Street Journal. "Antisemitism has no place on our campus and I am personally committed to doing everything I can to confront it directly."

Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx said ahead of the hearing that Columbia University was a hotbed for antisemitism that has spread at universities across the country following the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel.

"Columbia stands guilty of gross negligence, at best, and at worst has become a platform for those supporting terrorism and violence against the Jewish people," Foxx said.

The hearing came four months after another hearing of the committee prompted the resignations of fellow Ivy League school presidents Claudine Gay, of Harvard, and Elizabeth Magill, of the University of Pennsylvania.

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