Updated Apr 30, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Pro-Palestinian protesters take over Columbia building, barricade doors

Protesters wearing dark ski masks barricade a door with a large wooden table at Columbia University.

Demonstrators supporting Palestinians in Gaza barricade themselves Tuesday morning inside Hamilton Hall at Columbia University, in Manhattan. Photo: Alex Kent/Getty Images

Dozens of protesters breached an administrative building at Columbia University early Tuesday morning, barricading entrances and flying a Palestinian flag out a window on the Ivy League campus in Manhattan.

Why it matters: The occupation is a dramatic escalation of campus chaos sweeping the nation. The number of arrests in the pro-Palestinian protest movement is approaching 1,000, per AP.

Driving the news: At Columbia, the movement's epicenter, students used furniture to barricade Hamilton Hall, which was occupied during a 1968 civil rights and anti-Vietnam War protest, AP reports.

  • The student radio station, WKCR-FM, broadcast a play-by-play of the takeover.
  • Protesters locked down the building in fewer than five minutes once they'd entered, according to the Columbia Spectator, which detailed how the demonstrators carried out the takeover starting just past midnight.
A crowd of young demonstrators stands outside Hamilton Hall, which has white banners saying "Intifada" and "Hind's Hall" in red letters hanging from higher up.
Pro-Palestinian protestors gathered outside Hamilton Hall on the campus of Columbia University on April 30, 2024. Photo: Selcuk Acar/Anadolu via Getty Images

The big picture: College administrators, desperate to end tent encampments, on Monday began to suspend and discipline students while police cracked down.

  • At Cal Poly Humboldt, north of San Francisco among ancient coastal redwoods, student protesters have barricaded themselves for a week in a building that includes the president's office, tagging walls and renaming it "Intifada Hall," the New York Times reports.
  • Columbia announced it had begun to suspend students who remained in a tent encampment past a 2pm ET deadline.
  • A Columbia protester told reporters: "We will not be moved unless by force."
A group of pro-Palestinian protestors locks arms in front of Hamilton Hall.
Demonstrators lock arms to guard potential authorities against reaching fellow protestors who barricaded themselves inside Hamilton Hall on April 30, 2024, in New York City.

Zoom in: A coalition of student groups behind the protest has called for, among other things, divesting university endowment funds from companies that do business with the Israeli government.

  • Columbia President Minouche Shafik said in a statement Monday: "We are consulting with a broader group in our community to explore alternative internal options to end this crisis as soon as possible."

Other schools — including Cornell and NYU — said they'll suspend or discipline students involved in encampments.

  • At least 40 people involved in a tent encampment were arrested at the University of Texas in Austin on Monday afternoon.
  • Nine protesters at the University of Florida were taken into custody.

Police in riot gear arrested multiple people at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va.

Go deeper: What pro-Palestinian protesters on college campuses want

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional photos of protesters at Columbia University.

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