NATIONAL NEWS

Protesters take over Columbia University building in escalation of Israel-Hamas war demonstrations

Apr 30, 2024, 9:11 AM | Updated: 2:41 pm

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 30: Demonstrators supporting Palestinians in Gaza barricade themselves i...

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 30: Demonstrators supporting Palestinians in Gaza barricade themselves inside Hamilton Hall, an academic building which has been occupied in past student movements, on April 30, 2024 in New York City. Pro-Palestinian demonstrators marched as a 2 p.m. deadline to clear the encampment given to students by the university came and went. The students were given a suspension warning if they did not meet the deadline. Students at Columbia were the first from an elite college to erect an encampment, demanding that the school divest from Israel amid the Israel-Hamas war, in which more than 34,000 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip. (Photo by Alex Kent/Getty Images)

(Photo by Alex Kent/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP) — Dozens of protesters took over a building at Columbia University in New York early Tuesday, barricading the entrances and unfurling a Palestinian flag out of a window in the latest escalation of demonstrations against the Israel-Hamas war that have spread to college campuses nationwide.

Protesters on Columbia’s Manhattan campus locked arms in front of Hamilton Hall early Tuesday and carried furniture and metal barricades to the building, one of several that was occupied during a 1968 civil rights and anti-Vietnam War protest, video footage showed. Posts on an Instagram page for protest organizers shortly after midnight urged people to protect the encampment and join them at Hamilton Hall. A “Free Palestine” banner hung from a window.

“An autonomous group reclaimed Hind’s Hall, previously known as ‘Hamilton Hall,’ in honor of Hind Rajab, a martyr murdered at the hands of the genocidal Israeli state at the age of six years old,” CU Apartheid Divest posted on the social media platform X early Tuesday.

Hamilton Hall is an academic building that opened in 1907 and is named after Alexander Hamilton, who attended King’s College, Columbia’s original name.

The student radio station, WKCR-FM, broadcast a play-by-play of the hall’s takeover, which occurred nearly 12 hours after Monday’s 2 p.m. deadline for the protesters to leave an encampment of around 120 tents or face suspension.

University representatives did not immediately respond to emails requesting comment Tuesday, but the public safety department said in a statement that access to the campus has been limited to students living in the residential buildings and essential employees, such as dining, public safety and maintenance staff. There was just one access point into and out of campus.

“The safety of every single member of this community is paramount,” the advisory said.

In the X post, protesters said they planned to remain at the hall until the university agreed to three demands: divestment, financial transparency and amnesty.

Universities nationwide are grappling with how to clear out encampments as commencement ceremonies approach, with some continuing negotiations and others turning to force and ultimatums that have resulted in clashes with police. At many campuses, including Columbia, things appeared to be coming to a head.

College protests over war in Gaza reach Utah; 17 arrested

At California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt, where protesters have occupied two buildings, dozens of police officers in helmets and carrying batons marched onto campus early Tuesday and cleared both halls. The university said 25 people were arrested and there were no injuries. The start of the sweep was broadcast on the Facebook page of KAEF-TV, a satellite of KRCR-TV, until police detained the reporter.

The university earlier announced a “hard closure,” meaning that people were not permitted to enter or be on campus without authorization. At 3:24 a.m., the university’s website posted a shelter-in-place order for the campus.

Yale authorities on Tuesday morning cleared a protesters’ encampment after students heeded final warnings to leave, university officials said. No arrests were reported. Demonstrators said on social media that they were moving their gathering to a sidewalk area. The encampment was set up Sunday, six days after police arrested nearly 50 people, including 44 students, and took down dozens of tents.

Dozens of people were arrested Monday during protests at universities in Texas, Utah, Virginia and New Jersey, while Columbia said hours before the takeover of Hamilton Hall that it had started suspending students. At the University of Texas at Austin, 79 people involved in the Monday protest were jailed, according to the Travis County sheriff’s department, most charged with criminal trespass.

A small group of students at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon broke into the university’s library late Monday, drawing a sharp rebuke from city officials and the district attorney. The downtown campus, where protesters had been demonstrating mostly peacefully, was closed Tuesday due the library occupation.

Also Tuesday, police cleared an encampment at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and detained about 30 people. At the University of Connecticut, police made arrests after protesters refused orders to remove tents Tuesday morning.

The nationwide campus protests began as a response by some students to Israel’s offensive in Gaza after Hamas launched a deadly attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7. Militants killed about 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and took roughly 250 hostages. Vowing to stamp out Hamas, Israel has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, according to the local health ministry.

Israel and its supporters have branded the university protests as antisemitic, while critics of Israel say it uses such allegations to silence opponents. Although some protesters have been caught on camera making antisemitic remarks or violent threats, organizers of the protests, some of whom are Jewish, say it is a peaceful movement aimed at defending Palestinian rights and protesting the war.

As cease-fire negotiations appeared to gain steam Tuesday, it wasn’t clear whether those talks would inspire campus protesters to ease their efforts.

The plight of the arrested demonstrators has become a central part of protests, with students and a growing number of faculty demanding amnesty for protesters. At issue is whether the suspensions and legal records will follow students through their adult lives.

The Texas protest and others, including in Canada and Europe, grew out of Columbia’s early demonstrations. On Monday, student activists defied the 2 p.m. deadline to leave the encampment. Instead, hundreds of protesters remained. A handful of counterdemonstrators waved Israeli flags, and one held a sign reading, “Where are the anti-Hamas chants?”

While the university didn’t call police to roust the demonstrators, school spokesperson Ben Chang said suspensions had started but could provide few details. Protest organizers said they were not aware of any suspensions as of Monday evening.

At the University of Utah, police dragged students off by their hands and feet, snapping the poles holding up tents and zip-tying those who refused to disperse. And at Princeton University, students were arrested after briefly occupying a building that houses its graduate school.

In a rare case, Northwestern University said it reached an agreement with students and faculty who represent the majority of protesters on its campus near Chicago. It allows peaceful demonstrations through the end of spring classes in exchange for some concessions.

At the University of Southern California, organizers of a large encampment sat down with university President Carol Folt for about 90 minutes Monday. Folt declined to discuss details but said talks would continue Tuesday.

USC officials this month refused to allow the valedictorian, who has publicly supported Palestinians, to make a commencement speech, citing nonspecific security concerns. Administrators then scrapped the keynote speech by filmmaker and alumnus Jon M. Chu and declined to award honorary degrees.


Mattise reported from Nashville, Tennessee. Associated Press journalists around the country contributed to this report, including Karen Matthews, Jim Vertuno, Hannah Schoenbaum, Sarah Brumfield, Stefanie Dazio, Christopher Weber, Carolyn Thompson, Dave Collins, Makiya Seminera and Corey Williams.


This story has been corrected to show that Columbia University has not canceled its main graduation event.

KSL 5 TV Live

National News

FILE - In this image taken from San Francisco Police Department body-camera video, the husband of f...

Olga R. Rodriguez, Associated Press

Man gets 30 years in prison for attacking ex-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband with a hammer

A man has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for attacking the husband of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with a hammer.

11 hours ago

This photo provided by Vermont State University shows Max the Cat stands in front of Woodruff Hall ...

Associated Press

A college puts the ‘cat’ into ‘education’ by giving Max an honorary ‘doctor of litter-ature’ degree

A Vermont university has bestowed the honorary degree of “doctor of litter-ature” on a cat named Max who has become a beloved member of its community.

12 hours ago

RCMP Superintendent serious crimes branch David Hall speaks about Alberta RCMP linking four histori...

Rob Gillies, Associated Press

Dead US serial sex offender linked to 4 slain Canadian young women

Canadian police say they have linked the deaths of four young women nearly 50 years ago to a now deceased U.S. fugitive who hid in Canada from the mid 1970s to the late 1990s.

13 hours ago

NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 04:  Sesame Street characters Ernie, Bert, Elmo, Abby Cadabby, Zoe and Cookie M...

Emma Benson

‘Elmo loves you!’ Our favorite red Muppet stars in mental health campaign

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and we all deal with stress and different emotions. In January, Elmo asked a simple question online that sparked a huge conversation.

15 hours ago

Airplane overhead lockers are designed to accomodate luggage -- not people.
Mandatory Credit:	coffe...

Francesca Street, CNN

An airplane passenger was spotted in an overhead bin. This was the reaction

Last week, a video was posted on TikTok appearing to depict a traveler peering out from inside an overhead locker. The airline said they're looking into it.

16 hours ago

FILE - This undated photo provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sho...

Mike Stobbe, AP Medical Writer

We’ve crawled into tick season. Tips to protect yourself

Tick season is starting across the U.S., and experts are warning the bloodsuckers may be as plentiful as ever. That's because of a another mild U.S. winter.

19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 Internet Safety Tips for Kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Protesters take over Columbia University building in escalation of Israel-Hamas war demonstrations