Hundreds arrested in crackdown on Gaza solidarity encampments in New York City

Police were deployed to violently crackdown on Gaza solidarity encampments erected by students at dozens of universities to demand that they divest from Israel

May 01, 2024

Hundreds of students, professors, and community members were beaten and arrested by police officers on the night of April 30, 2024 in New York City. The crackdown and mass arrests at Columbia University and City College, ordered by university administrations, were carried out to clear and evict Gaza solidarity encampments which have been launched by students at dozens of campuses across the country in the last two weeks.

Eric Adams’ night of terror

Legal observers estimated that several hundred people were arrested in the coordinated crackdown in the city. Hundreds of cops were deployed to the two universities in uptown Manhattan where students had maintained Gaza solidarity encampments.

The crackdown was launched less than a day after Columbia students had occupied a building on campus, Hamilton Hall, and renamed it “Hind Hall”, after the Gazan child murdered by Israeli forces after calling for help. Students had declared that the building occupation was in response to the administration’s refusal to engage in good-faith negotiations, citing their threats of deploying police and national guard, and finally declaring that they would not divest from Israel. Following the occupation, the administration announced those participating would be expelled, while dozens of students proceeded to be arbitrarily suspended and the campus went into complete lockdown.

Finally on the night of April 30, the police invasion appeared imminent as hundreds of officers with zip ties gathered outside the university. Police then violently pushed through a line of protesters outside the gates of Columbia University at around 9pm, arresting dozens, and then proceeded to storm the campus using a tank and a ladder to access the second floor of the building secured and occupied by students.

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Eyewitnesses recount that dozens of officers entered “Hind’s Hall”, brutalized those inside, and arrested them. A complete lockdown was also declared across the campus and students, faculty, and workers alike were barricaded in buildings by police officers under threat of arrest.

At the same time, hundreds of police officers surrounded City College, barricading students and workers at City College inside and threatening them with arrest. After students and community defended the perimeter of the university for several hours, cops proceeded to storm the gates, armed with pepper spray and batons and violently evict the encampment and arrest hundreds.

The over 400 arrestees from the two universities were taken to 1 Police Plaza for processing while hundreds of people rallied outside.

Students and people across New York City have vowed that the heavy repression doled out by Mayor Eric Adams’ police force will not deter them from fighting for Palestine and are hitting the streets again on May 1 in a mass march for International Workers’ Day.

In a press conference held on May 1 about the police operation, Adams defended the actions of the police and claimed that the protests were organized by “anti-semitic” “outside agitators” in order to radicalize young people and declared: “They are attempting to disrupt our city and we are not going to permit it to happen.”

On the other side of the country at University of California Los Angeles, dozens of zionist counter-protesters launched unprecedented violent attacks against the students in the Gaza solidarity encampment. They shot fireworks at students, beat them with pieces of wood, punched and kicked them, shouted obscenities, and inflicted hours of terror on the hundreds of students and community members that are participating in the Gaza solidarity encampment at UCLA. Despite their trigger happy response against students, police barely intervened and dozens of students were seriously injured.

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Over the past two weeks, thousands of students have been pitching tents on the campuses and inside the buildings of their universities declaring that they will not move until the university agrees to divest from Israel and companies that profit from the occupation and cut academic ties. Their actions inspired students across the world, who have organized encampments at universities in Australia, Canada, France, the UK, Lebanon, Tunisia, and more.

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