Columbia Gaza Camp protesters smash windows, storm and occupy admin building

"Resistance is justified in the movement for liberation."

Libby Emmons Brooklyn NY
The protests at Columbia University raged on, with students occupying Hamilton Hall, an administration building on the east side of campus. Dozens of protesters entered the building at about 12:30 am and barricaded the doors, zip-tying them closed and stacking furniture to keep people out.

Students rushed the building armed with sleeping bags and other items with which to occupy Hamilton Hall early Tuesday morning, the Columbia Spectator reports. The organized effort then saw students barricade the building. The whole thing took less than 5 minutes. A worker who had been stuck in the building shouted "They held me hostage," after he was able to leave around 12:40 am. Additional workers were permitted to leave the building around 1:10 am.

Many more protesters, faces covered with keffiyehs, masks, and sunglasses, linked arms outside the building. NYPD arrived on the scene after 2 am but did not enter the campus.

This aggressive action came after Columbia administration, under the leadership of university president Minouche Shafik, said that the negotiations between officials and protest leaders were at "an impasse." A notice was issued to students warning them to discontinue their protest by 2 pm or face disciplinary action. By 2 am, Columbia University Apartheid Divest (CUAD) took responsibility for the occupation.

"Admitted students day is over—commencement is on its way," CUAD wrote in the post. "Let's see how much of this campus we can reclaim by then!"

Jonas Du, editor-in-chief of new Columbia magazine The Sundial, shared video showing students stacking furniture inside the building, which the students had renamed "Hind's Hall" in honor of a 6-year-old Palestinian, Hind Rajab, who died in the Israel-Hamas war along with six of her family members.

National Students for Justice Palestine shared an image with protesters holding the new sign outside the window of Hamilton Hall.

Students hung a sign reading "intifada" out the window as well. Intifada is an Arabic word used to call for the uprising of Palestinians against Israel, including through terrorist actions.

"We will not stop, we will not rest [unintelligible] divest," the students chanted as others blockaded the hall. They also chanted "no divestment, no commencement."

A protester broke a window while "dozens more formed a human barricade directly outside the Hamilton doors. Within minutes, protesters sealed Hamilton while hundreds more flooded in front of the building," per the Columbia Spectator.

Andy Ngo shared footage from Viral News showing "organized rioters" breaking into Hamilton Hall from the Amsterdam Ave. side of the building. 

Students broke windows with a hammer and were cheered on when dragging barricades into the building.

Another video showed protesters breaking windows, forcing a photographer with a "student press" badge taped to her back out of the building, along with another photographer, and then locking the handles of the entry doors with a bike lock.

A notice was issued to the protesters by school officials, called "Notice to Encampment," on Monday, saying that there are exams beginning on campus, thousands of students looking to graduate, and urged the students to disperse. Administrators offered "an alternative venue for demonstrations after the exam period and commencement have concluded."

"If the encampment is not removed," it reads, "we will need to initiate disciplinary procedures because of a number of violations of university policies." The notice demanded that protesters gather their things and "leave the encampment" or face disciplinary action, including suspension from school. The notice says that many of the students in the encampment have already been identified by school officials. 

The notice gave students until 2 pm to leave. Later that night and into the morning, the occupation of Hamilton Hall began.

CUAD, which claims to be a "coalition of student organizations that see Palestine as the vanguard for our collective liberation," claimed responsibility for the seizure of Hamilton Hall. They issued a press release, linking themselves to a long line of protests at Columbia going back to those in 1968 over the Vietnam War, in 1985 over divestment from South Africa over apartheid, and in 1992 to prevent school administrators from renovating a campus building where Malcolm X had been assassinated.

"Resistance is justified in the movement for liberation," CUAD wrote. They protested the universities' actions in allowing arrests of student agitators on campus, and claimed the school is "weaponizing food insecurity and houselessness as leverage in negotiations." CUAD then blames the administration for CUAD's actions, saying "Columbia has forced protesters to escalate by contributing to a genocide while refusing to follow baseline standards of conduct that make negotiations possible."

The group formed on campus demanding action on "Palestinian liberation" in 2016 and was "reactivated in October 2023" after Palestinian terror group Hamas attacked Israel and massacred 1,200, taking hostages as well, "in response to overwhelming support for Palestinian freedom from students on Columbia's campus." CUAD's response to the attack on Israel was to side with the attackers. This was part of their "chief goal," which is "to challenge the settler-colonial violence that Israel perpetrates with the support of the United States and its allies." The group is in league with Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace, both Hamas apologist groups that were suspended on campus by school officials.

An Israeli professor who has been outspoken against the protest condemned the school and local elected leaders Mayor Eric Adams and Governor Kathy Hochul for not sending in police or the National Guard "even when terrorists take over a campus building and take a facility worker hostage."

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