Left with no choice? Columbia expresses ‘regret’ as they call on NYPD to end anarchy

After days of kowtowing to antisemitic pro-Palestine protesters who bullied Jewish students and took control of Hamilton Hall, Columbia University finally relented and made adult decisions to permit law enforcement to intervene amid the anarchy.

Until Tuesday evening, Columbia officials had refused to call in the NYPD but finally relented after the school was forced to shut down the campus to everyone but students who reside there and essential employees.

“More than 100 people were arrested at Columbia University and City College of New York on Tuesday night, according to a law enforcement official, as protests against Israel’s bombardment of Gaza intensified across college campuses nationwide,” CNN reported. “Police in riot gear entered Columbia University’s Hamilton Hall and used flash bangs when breaching the building, in which pro-Palestinian protesters had barricaded themselves. Less than two hours after officers entered the school’s campus in Morningside Heights, Columbia University’s property was cleared.”

While Columbia President Minouche Shafik has largely been missing in action as her school became the epicenter of nationwide protests, she requested help in a letter to NYPD Deputy Commissioner Michael Gerber.

“The events on campus [Monday] night have left us no choice. With the support of the University’s Trustees, I have determined that the building occupation, the encampments, and related disruptions pose a clear and present danger to persons, property, and the substantial functioning of the University and require the use of emergency authority to protect persons and property,” she wrote. “With the utmost regret, we request the NYPD’s help to clear all individuals from Hamilton Hall and all campus encampments. As part of this process, we understand that the NYPD plans to use its LRAD technology to inform participants in the encampments that they must disperse.”

The university released a statement late Tuesday also expressing “regret.”

“We regret that protesters have chosen to escalate the situation through their actions. After the University learned overnight that Hamilton Hall had been occupied, vandalized, and blockaded, we were left with no choice. Columbia public safety personnel were forced out of the building, and a member of our facilities team was threatened. We will not risk the safety of our community or the potential for further escalation,” the statement said.

“The leadership team, including the Board of Trustees, met throughout the night and into the early morning, consulting with security experts and law enforcement to determine the best plan to protect our students and the entire Columbia University community. We made the decision, early in the morning, that this was a law enforcement matter, and that the NYPD were best positioned to determine and execute an appropriate response.”

The protests have come to represent not only hatred toward Israel, but toward America itself as Columbia further acknowledged, “We believe that the group that broke into and occupied the building is led by individuals who are not affiliated with the University.”

There was an almost comical press event Tuesday where a student leader called on the university to provide the Hamilton Hall occupiers with food and water, prompting The Atlantic senior editor David Frum to respond, “The revolution will be catered.”

Tom Tillison

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