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Dozens of anti-Israel protesters loaded into NYPD buses on Columbia University campus

Police removed anti-Israel protesters from Columbia University’s campus in New York City on Thursday, after the demonstrating students had set up an encampment on a campus lawn, and announced the suspension of those students involved.

Columbia University President Minouche Shafik sent a message to the student body, saying that these "extraordinary steps" were necessary "because these are extraordinary circumstances" and that the protesters had "violated a long list of rules and policies."


placeholder"Out of an abundance of concern for the safety of Columbia’s campus, I authorized the New York Police Department to begin clearing the encampment from the South Lawn of Morningside campus that had been set up by students in the early hours of Wednesday morning," Shafik said.

Video from the campus showed officers loading dozens of protesters who participated in the "Gaza Solidarity Encampment" onto police buses. Some students were also seen attempting to block police vehicles. 

A group of pro-Palestinian Columbia University social workers were organizing jail support for the students who have been arrested.

The encampment popped up hours before Shafik testified before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce regarding antisemitism on campus. 

The Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine posted on X that students had occupied the center of the university campus.

"As of 4 AM this morning, Columbia University students have occupied the center of campus, launching our Gaza Solidarity Encampment. We demand divestment and an end to Columbia’s complicity in genocide," the post states. 

Videos posted online show protesters accusing Israel and President Biden of being complicit in genocide against Palestinians. 


"Over 30 thousand dead. Columbia you’re painted red," some protesters were heard chanting. 

The NYPD told Fox News Digital that a firm count on the number of arrests wasn't immediately available. The police operation was the first mass arrests to be made on the Columbia campus since 1968, when hundreds of students occupied Hamilton Hall in protest of the Vietnam War and the planned construction of a gymnasium in Morningside Park were detained, the Columbia Spector reported. 

The Columbia College Student Council criticized school administrators for involving the police during Thursday's demonstration. 

"As representatives of the student body, we call upon the university administration to uphold its commitment to fostering and protecting an environment where students can peacefully protest without fear of retribution and suppression for their beliefs. Read our statement above to learn more," the group said. 

Dozens of protesters camped out in tents on school grounds since early Wednesday, calling on the university to divest itself from companies that have ties to Israel, as Shafik testified on Capitol Hill.

The university had locked down its campus to ID holders only in anticipation of unrest relating to Shafik's testimony.

Minouche Shafik, president of Columbia University, testifies

Minouche Shafik, president of Columbia University, testified Wednesday during the House Education and the Workforce Committee hearing titled "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism." (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc.)

In a letter to the NYPD, Shafik said more than 100 people were occupying the South Lawn of the campus. 

"This group has been informed numerous times and in writing that they are not permitted to occupy this space, are in violation of the University’s rules and policies and must disperse," she wrote. "All University students participating in the encampment have been informed they are suspended."

Shafik said in the message that those who established the encampment "violated a long list of rules and policies."

The Barnard’s Student Government Association (BSGA) at nearby Barnard College condemned the "illegitimate suspension" of the students involved in Thursday's encampment protest. 

A protesters holds a sign in support of Palestinians.

Students and pro-Palestinian activists gather outside of Columbia University in New York City to protest the school's stance on Israel on Thursday. The protests come after numerous students were arrested earlier in the day after setting up tents on the university lawn in support of Gaza. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

"To immediately suspend members without due notice violates the sanctity of the academic institution and its purpose to facilitate open dialogue," the BSGA said in a statement. "Our affected students — who are Black, Brown, and Jewish — immediately lost access to basic necessities to live. The College is making these students food-insecure and homeless, with no reasonable evacuation timeline."


The university provided multiple notices of violations, according to Shafik, who said that the involved students had rejected all the university’s attempts to resolve the situation.

"This is a challenging moment, and these are steps that I deeply regret having to take," Shafik said. "I encourage us all to show compassion and remember the values of empathy and respect that draws us together as a Columbia community."

Anti-Israel protesters occupy the Columbia University main lawn

Anti-Israel protesters take over the main lawn on Columbia University's campus in New York City on Wednesday. (WNYW)

Like many Ivy League college campuses, Columbia University has seen numerous pro-Palestinian protests sprout since Oct. 7. The demonstrations have gotten more intense as Israel continues to conduct its military offensive in the Gaza Strip against Hamas.  

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., said pro-Palestinian students across the country were being retaliated against "for using their constitutional rights to protest genocide. It’s appalling."

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