56 Years After ‘Bloody, Brutal’ Cop Raid at Columbia University, Cops Raid Students’ Pro-Palestine Encampment

"Columbia is a far different place today than it was in the spring of 1968 when protesters took over University buildings," reads a page on the university's website. Tuesday night's raid proves otherwise.

56 Years After ‘Bloody, Brutal’ Cop Raid at Columbia University, Cops Raid Students’ Pro-Palestine Encampment
Police arrest protestors who marched from Columbia University to the CUNY Harlem campus on April 30. Photo: Shutterstock

On April 30, 1968, the front page of the Columbia Daily Spectator read: “University Calls in 1,000 Police To End Demonstrations As Nearly 700 Are Arrested And 100 Injured; Violent Solution Follows Failure To Negotiate.” At the time, scores of student demonstrators had flooded campus common areas and overtaken university buildings to protest the Vietnam War. The student newspaper called the April 30 raid a “bloody, brutal show of strength” on the part of police. On Tuesday—exactly 56 years to the day of that report—cops raided the campus again. This time to arrest students protesting the war and ongoing genocide in Gaza.

On Tuesday night, a fleet of NYPD officers in riot gear descended on Columbia University to clear out the student encampment and arrest over 100 student protesters. Many of them were inside Hamilton Hall, which had been overtaken by students and renamed “Hind Hall” for Hind Rajab, the six-year-old girl who was reportedly murdered by Israeli soldiers in Gaza in February, per multiple reports. Student protesters took over the same academic building in 1968.

A number of campus groups in support of Palestinian liberation like Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine claim the Tuesday night arrests were violent, with some students sustaining injuries like “swollen faces” and “lacerations” from being kicked and tackled to the ground by authorities. On Twitter, at least one protestor who was arrested described being “thrown onto the ground and pinned down by 6-7 cops.” Photos and videos, too, show an overwhelming crush of cops surrounding the university sometime after 9 p.m.

The university has since confirmed it personally requested NYPD’s presence via a letter from university president, Minouche Shafik. In a statement that attempted to justify the move, a Columbia spokesperson said: “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.”


As police raided the encampments, many were quick to point out the irony of this page on Columbia’s website. First published in 2018, the page remembers the “turbulent times” of the 1968 protests.

“Columbia is a far different place today than it was in the spring of 1968 when protesters took over University buildings amid discontent about the Vietnam War, racism and the University’s proposed expansion into Morningside Park,” it begins. “After a weeklong standoff, New York City Police stormed the campus and arrested more than 700 people. The fallout dogged Columbia for years.”

“It took decades for the University to recover from those turbulent times,” it continues before boasting that it now has “one of the most socio-economically diverse student bodies among its peer institutions.” Columbia, unsurprisingly, doesn’t seem to see the irony.

Since April 17, some hundreds of student protestors—and young reporters—have put their bodies on the line for Palestine. Last week, Columbia students faced over 100 more arrests after erecting their first encampments. In recent days, similar encampments—where students and faculty are demanding their schools divest from companies with Israeli ties—have not only sprung up across the city at New York University, The New School, and others, but beyond at the University of Michigan, Yale University, Ohio State, UCLA, and more. They’ve all similarly reported that police have used brutality to raid the camps and arrest protesters.

Meanwhile, when asked about the onslaught of student protests for Palestine on campuses throughout the U.S., White House Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said: “Forcibly taking over buildings is not peaceful—it’s just not.”

Since the Biden administration and countless systems of unimaginable power are actively, aggressively attempting to undermine the student-led movement for Palestine, it can’t be said enough: Solidarity with students—including those on campus tirelessly covering these demonstrations and ensuring history isn’t re-written—everywhere.

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