NYU president describes threats, vandalism, escalating violence that prompted school to call NYPD

New York University President Linda G. Mills described threats made against her and said outside agitators on campus were reasons why the school asked police to clear the anti-Israel encampment there.

In a message to the NYU Community, Mills said police were called in response to the violation of University rules and escalating risk of violent outbursts.

"As I said earlier this week, universities are typically able to solve community disputes using their own established tools," Mills said. "However, time and again across the US recently, those longstanding tools haven’t worked, and the level of violence and the speed of escalation that has accompanied these encampments has been frightening."

New York Police Department officers cleared the encampment at NYU on Friday morning, making 56 arrests. Mills said the process took approximately 20 minutes and was nonviolent.

The university president said the police were brought in after negotiations with protesters failed to reach an agreement. Then on May 1, some 500 outside agitators broke off from a May Day march on Sixth Avenue and joined the encampment on Greene St. Walkway. 

"This led to hours of disruption, vandalism, and violence," Mills said. "One person—someone who objected to the demonstration—was struck with a thrown bottle. Eggs were thrown at demonstrators. A counter-protester was put in handcuffs. There were several calls from the encampment for outside actors to join their 'militant political space'."

Mills described how university administrators observed these events with growing horror before deciding to break up the encampment. She said there were continuing calls for outside agitators to join the protest, bomb threats made on April 25 and 26, threats directed at her personally and vandalism at the building which houses faculty.

"The University’s senior leadership and I were compelled to conclude that we could not tolerate the risk of violence any longer and that we could not responsibly or in good conscience wait until something drastically worse were to happen in order to act. We needed to bring this to a close," Mills wrote. 

"That decision is underscored by what was found at the encampment site, including materials that reference 'Death to Israeli Real Estate,' 'Destroy Zionist business interests everywhere,' 'Enough with De-Escalation Trainings: Where are the Escalation Trainings!' 'You will not find a truce from us' and 'Death to America.' Moreover, there is a specific reference encouraging our students to 'welcome "outside agitators to our struggle."'"

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