Columbia blocks press from covering student Gaza protests, campus occupation

The restrictions will remain in place "until circumstances allow otherwise."

Jarryd Jaeger Vancouver, BC

Following the destructive actions of pro-Palestinian protestors Monday night,  Columbia University has announced that it will be limiting access until further notice.  

Effective immediately, only essential workers and those students living in residence are allowed to enter. Outsiders, and members of the media, will be turned away. 

"Access to the Morningside campus has been limited to students residing in residential buildings on campus (Carman, Furnald, John Jay, Hartley, Wallach, East Campus and Wien) and employees who provide essential services to campus buildings, labs and residential student life," the university wrote in a statement, noting that the restrictions will remain in place "until circumstances allow otherwise." 

"The only access point into and out of campus," the statement continued, "is the 116th Street and Amsterdam gate. All other campus entry points are closed. Security personnel will remain in place at the Wien Gate for individuals requiring disability access to Wien Hall and East Campus." 
In an earlier post, the university stated that media access to campus had been suspended "as a safety measure." 

Around 12:30am Tuesday, protestors armed with sleeping bags and other items occupied Hamilton Hall and barricaded themselves inside.

A banner was unfurled renaming the building Hind's Hall, in honor of a 6-year-old Palestinian girl who was killed by Israeli forces. Alongside it was another banner that read "intifada," the Arabic word used to describe the uprising of Palestinians agaisnt Israel.

Throughout the night, windows were smashed, the building was trashed, and protestors were essentially allowed to do as they pleased. 

The incident drew the ire of many, including officials in Washington.

"President Biden respects the right to free expression, but protests must be peaceful and lawful," White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates said in a statement. "Forcibly taking over buildings is not peaceful — it is wrong, and hate speech and hate symbols have no place in America."

Bates said Biden "condemns the use of the term 'intifada'" in particular.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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