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Protestors occupy Columbia building




HOST: Today marks the second week of pro-Palestine protests at Columbia University. Late last night, student protesters entered and barricaded themselves inside Hamilton Hall, an academic building housing Columbia College, accelerating their standoff with the administration. 


A little before 6:30 AM, an email was sent from Columbia President Minouche Shafik announcing that access to campus would be restricted to students residing in dorms and essential staff. As of now, it’s unclear whether law enforcement will be brought onto campus to remove the protestors. Claire Davenport was there through the night and has the story.




Student protestors form a human barricade. Photo: Desiree Nikfardjam

DAVENPORT: 

It’s 9:30 in the morning, and the campus is empty. But last night, a little after midnight, the campus was filled with hundreds of student protestors marching to Hamilton Hall, an academic building. Dozens of pro-Palestine protestors entered the building, carrying in metal gates and zip ties to secure the doors and block the entrances.


Once inside, they smashed some windows and stacked wooden chairs against the doors. The majority of protestors remained outside, forming human chains in front of the doors. They also barricaded the building exterior, using everything from trash cans to metal tables up the steps. 



A banner hung by Columbia protestors. Photo: Desiree Nikfardjam

Protestors have hung a sign from windows on the building’s upper floors. It read “Hinds Hall” and is a tribute to Hind Rajab, a 6-year-old Palestinian child who was found dead in a car days after she called emergency services for aid in Gaza.


The occupation comes after recent actions by the administration. Yesterday, President Minouche Shafik said over email that negotiations had failed and that the university would not divest from Israel. Following this announcement, the school issued protestors a notice to vacate their encampment by the afternoon, or risk suspension.

The protestors are calling for the university to divest from companies that profit from Israel such as arms and defense manufacturers Lockheed Martin and Boeing. One of Columbia’s trustees, Jeh Johnson, is on the board of Lockheed Martin. 

 Hamilton Hall was previously occupied in 1968 during the anti-Vietnam war protests on campus on the SAME day Tuesday, April 30. That Tuesday, over 50 years ago, the NYPD entered campus and removed the students from the building. 712 arrests were made, and over 100 people were injured. Now in 2024, it’s unclear how the university plans to remove the student protestors from the occupied building or whether further arrests will take place


Claire Davenport, Columbia Radio News




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