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Campus protests: NYPD moves in to clear protests at NYU and The New School; more than 2,300 arrested nationwide

College and city officials in New York said many of those involved in campus protests at Columbia University and CCNY were not affiliated with the schools.

What to know about campus protests:

Ole Miss protest ends in heated confrontation

Curtis Bunn

A group of pro-Palestinian protesters at the University of Mississippi became surrounded by a larger and rowdy group of counterprotesters yesterday, and had to be escorted into a building by police. 

Videos of the protest posted on social media show the larger crowd, of about 200 seemingly mostly white young people, surrounding and shouting down the multi-racial group of between 30 and 60 pro-Palestinian protesters. 

Another video showed the counterprotesters singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” to drown out the chants from the pro-Palestinian protesters, while yet another video showed a large crowd of men, including two male students who appear to be white, in American flag overalls, yelling in the direction of a Black female graduate student.

In the video, the woman appears to be walking toward the crowd while recording them on her phone. 

Read the full story here.

Cal Poly Humboldt moves graduation ceremonies off campus

California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt, the northernmost California State University campus, today announced it has scuttled plans to hold graduation ceremonies on campus after protesters shut down the institution.

Pro-Palestinian protesters began an occupation of two buildings at the campus in Arcata on April 22, the school has said. The protests prompted the school's leaders to close the campus and cancel in-person classes for the rest of the academic year.

The occupation ended Tuesday with 35 people arrested and the buildings cleared by law enforcement, Cal Poly Humboldt said. Commencement ceremonies scheduled for May 11 have been moved off-campus.

The protest, an investigation, and the subsequent clean-up have diverted the usual month's worth of planning that goes into hosting the events on campus, it said. "There is no way," the institution said.

Commencement ceremonies will be held May 11 by major for students completing studies at each of Cal Poly Humboldt's three colleges, the institution said. Locations include Sapphire Palace at the Blue Lake Casino in Blue Lake, the Eureka Theater in Eureka, and the Eureka High School auditorium in Eureka.

A previously planned regional commencement for students from Southern California will happen as scheduled at the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills on May 14, the institution said.

Columbia rethinking commencement plans

Antonia Hylton

Columbia University is rethinking its commencement plans after weeks of pro-Palestinian protests ended with authorities forcing their way into a barricaded school building and arresting dozens of people, according to a source at the university and two members of student government.

The source at the university said the main commencement ceremony was slated to be canceled, but smaller events were still being planned.

After a meeting with top university leaders Friday, two members of student government said administrators indicated they are not sure they can hold a commencement ceremony on the main Morningside Heights campus in Manhattan because of security concerns. 

It is unclear if final decisions have been made.

Read the full story here.

24 arrested at Northern Arizona University, after-hours protests banned

Twenty-four protesters were arrested this week at Northern Arizona University, which said protests will not be allowed after-hours.

The university said in a statement students composed 22 of the 24 people arrested after police moved in on a what it described as a prohibited encampment on the Flagstaff campus.

Those arrested remained following a dispersal deadline of 10 p.m. Tuesday, the institution said. Exact allegations related to the arrests were not revealed, but the university reiterated that temporary structures that underly encampments are prohibited along with protests outside of the hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The institution also said the campus' arm of Students for Justice in Palestine was temporarily suspended.

The university said it would strive to ensure its "continued commitment to free expression."

NBC News

Displaced students in Gaza have thanked pro-Palestinian protesters on U.S. college campuses for their solidarity.

USC alumni pledge to withhold donations until university divests

More than 1,700 alumni from the University of Southern California have signed a letter supporting calls from antiwar student protesters to divest from Israeli companies tied to military operations in Gaza.

Until those demands are met, they will withhold donations to the university, according to a statement by USC Alums for Justice.

“Students across the country are demanding an end to this genocide and Israel’s Zionist occupation of Palestine,” the letter states. “We, the undersigned alumni of the University of Southern California, stand with them. …  In full support of the USC Divest from Death Coalition’s demands, we call on USC to boycott, disclose, and divest from Israel and war-profiteering.” 

Protesters, UC Riverside come to agreement, ending encampment

Leaders of an encampment protesting Israeli military action in Gaza and UC Riverside officials struck a deal today to put an end to the tent city, school officials said.

The school agreed to publicize all campus holdings and form a task force aimed at developing "ethically sound" investments, according to a UCR statement.

"This agreement does not change the realities of the war in Gaza, or the need to address antisemitism, Islamophobia, and other forms of bias and discrimination," UCR Chancellor Kim Wilcox said, "however, I am grateful that we can have constructive and peaceful conversations on how to address these complex issues."

How Columbia University protesters organized before law enforcement moved in

Isa Farfan

Isa Farfan and Daniel Arkin

Pro-Palestinian activists who set up a sprawling outdoor encampment on Columbia University’s campus divided themselves into two groups to stay organized.

In one group were protesters who were willing to be on the front lines of a possible confrontation with law enforcement. They were ready to be arrested imminently. In another group were protesters who stood ready to help their fellow demonstrators — but wanted to avoid arrest and potential charges.

In interviews with NBC News and videos recorded at the pro-Palestinian encampment in April, activists explained how elements of the protest were organized, providing a window into a tense standoff that divided the Columbia community and seized national attention.

In an interview last week, an undergraduate student from Bangladesh who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was concerned he could lose his visa explained that he was part of the so-called “yellow” group — a squad of protesters who wanted to avoid being handcuffed and taken away by police, but nonetheless tried to bolster the activist campaign in other ways.

“When you’re yellow, essentially, you are not prepared to be arrested,” the student said. “But you are willing to provide all sorts of other support … [such as] locating picketing, making supply runs into and beyond the encampment.” He described these as “challenging tasks” that would also “not actually have … legal repercussions.”

Another Columbia undergraduate who provided only her initials because she is an undocumented immigrant and fears deportation, said last week she spent hours a day in the encampment before university officials threatened to suspend those students.

She joined a supplies “platoon” — a subgroup formed by pro-Palestinian campus organizers. She said some of those platoons volunteered to be first in line for arrest or agreed to be configured in human chains when police officers arrived.

In a video recorded late April 23, an unidentified protest organizer in a green hoodie and black mask explained that the other team — the “red” group — would be made up of people “who prefer to be arrested today, or imminently.” The crowd surrounding the organizer can be heard cheering during his speech — and a police helicopter can be heard circling overhead.

In a dramatic escalation early April 30, a group of the protesters stormed Hamilton Hall, shattering windows and barricading doors. 

The protesters who occupied Hamilton Hall hung pro-Palestinian banners over the facade and set up a rope system that they used to transport supplies into the building. They renamed the building Hind’s Hall in honor of a 6-year-old Palestinian girl who was killed in the Gaza Strip.

In the end, 112 people were arrested Tuesday on the Columbia campus in upper Manhattan. New York City officials announced Thursday that 29% of those people were not affiliated with the Ivy League institution, where activist anger over Israel’s war in Gaza helped spur a campus protest movement that swept across the country in the latter half of April.

The pro-Palestinian protesters at Columbia demanded that the school divest from corporations that could be profiting from Israel’s war in Gaza, which has killed more than 33,000 people, according to local health authorities. The surprise Hamas terror attack in Israel on Oct. 7 killed more than 1,200 people, and the militants also kidnapped dozens of civilians.

Columbia president defends action to break up encampment

Columbia President Minouche Shafik defended the university's action in breaking up a pro-Palestinian encampment saying Columbia had made "sincere" offers to protesters before they "crossed a new line" to occupy Hamilton Hall.

She called the past two weeks among the most difficult in university history, filled with "turmoil and tension" as students protested Israeli military action in Gaza by camping out on a campus lawn.

"The university made a sincere and good offer but it was not accepted," she said in a video statement posted to Instagram. "A group of protesters crossed a new line with the occupation of Hamilton Hall. It was a violent act that put our students at risk, as well as putting the protesters at risk. I walked through the building and saw the damage which was distressing."

Protesters took over Hamilton Hall in the early hours of Tuesday morning before the NYPD, at the behest of the university, moved in on the occupiers and encampment late that night.

University of Buffalo welcomes protest, but not encampment

Madison Lambert

Madison Lambert and David K. Li

The University of Buffalo today warned pro-Palestinian protesters to follow all rules and not take over a campus building or camp out.

There are prohibitions "against occupation of buildings, overnight assemblies and encampments" and protests "must not disrupt university operations or activities including classes, events, meetings and lectures," according to a UB statement.

A group expected to lead a demonstration later this afternoon, UB Students for Justice in Palestine, has pledged to disperse and follow all rules.

Chicago PD and mayor want peaceful resolution to university protest

Ava Kelley

Ava Kelley and David K. Li

Chicago police and administrators say they’re in close contact with the University of Chicago over the ongoing student protests, with City Hall stopping just short of pledging support for any campus crackdown.

"Obviously, we are in communication with leadership in most of these situations," Chicago Police Superintendent Larry Snelling told reporters. "What we don’t want to do as a police department is escalate the situation unnecessarily. So we take our time, we assess the situations and if it’s not necessary for us to go in and attempt to start removing people, then we won’t." 

Mayor Brandon Johnson said City Hall is committed to "providing a safe, secure place where the First Amendment can ultimately be protected" and praised the police for seeking "deescalation."

University of Tennessee head defends action against protesters

Juliette Arcodia

Juliette Arcodia and David K. Li

The University of Tennessee defended its action against protesters last night, saying demonstrators can't "monopolize university property for an indefinite period of time."

While Chancellor Donde Plowman insisted the school views free speech as "the backbone of any university," she also said protesters last night went to impermissible outdoor locations, forcing campus police action.

"We apply laws and policies to everyone equally and without prejudice to preserve the use and enjoyment of university property and protect the safety of members of our community," Plowman said in a statement today. "A group of individuals does not have the right to monopolize university property for an indefinite period of time."

Nine people, seven students and two others, were arrested.

University of Wisconsin wants encampment ended soon, protesters say

MADISON, Wisc. — University of Wisconsin administrators want a protest encampment taken down before finals start next week, but talks to end the ongoing action have stalled, demonstrators said today.

The university will not open books to show if any investments are benefitting Israel and the Jewish state’s ongoing military action in Gaza, protesters said.

School officials told protesters they want a resolution before finals and offered a meeting tomorrow to discuss demands, which organizers said would be “pointless” without disclosure of the university’s investments.

A university spokesperson could not be immediately reached for comment on Friday.

Police cleared a protest on Wednesday. It was not clear on Friday afternoon whether police action was again being considered.

The UW Madison encampment
Organizers at the UW Madison encampment say they will remain in place until their demands are met. Maura Barrett / NBC News

Protesters, University of Chicago at an impasse

Ava Kelley

David K. Li and Ava Kelley

Students and staff protesting at the University of Chicago in support Palestinians in Gaza are at odds over the term “scholasticide” and cannot agree on a solution to end their encampment, demonstrators said today.

A sticking point is the university's refusal to embrace the word “scholasticide” and agree that to the "widely accepted fact that every university in Gaza has been destroyed by" Israeli forces, according to a statement by the group UChicago United for Palestine.

University of Chicago protesters have been camping out since Monday, and a rep for the school hinted today that administrators might be forced to take action soon.

"On Monday, I stated that we would only intervene if what might have been an exercise of free expression blocks the learning or expression of others or substantially disrupts the functioning or safety of the University," president Paul Alivisatos said in a statement. "Without an agreement to end the encampment, we have reached that point."

Map: Campus protests across the U.S.

Since mid-April, campuses across the country have been the site of encampments, protests and counterprotests as students have demanded Palestinian liberation and for their schools to call for a cease-fire and divest their endowments from Israel and companies they say are profiting from the war.

ACLU suing on behalf of banned Indiana University student and professor

Matthew Mata

Matthew Mata and David K. Li

The American Civil Liberties Union went to court today on behalf of at least three people banned from the Indiana University campus after they protested in support of Palestinians, the group said.

Bloomington resident Jasper Wirtshafter, tenured professor Benjamin Robinson and grad student Madeleine Meldrum were demonstrating at Dunn Meadow, a 20-acre campus space that's designated for protests, when they were arrested and later banned, the ACLU said.

More banned people could be added to the lawsuit later, the ACLU said.

An IU rep today said the school does not comment on pending litigation.

Pro-Palestinian campus protests go global

LONDON — Pro-Palestinian demonstrations that have rocked college campuses in the United States are now gaining traction across the world, from London, Paris and Rome to Sydney, Tokyo, Beirut and beyond.

These protests at schools in major cities around the globe were launched in response to Israel’s monthslong military assault on the Gaza Strip, but students told NBC News they were also inspired by the dramatic scenes from colleges in the U.S. in recent weeks.

They have stopped short of the size and intensity of the American encampments, which have stirred fierce debate and clashes with both authorities and pro-Israel counterprotesters. But today, police moved in to clear a sit-in that had closed an elite French university — a sign of the fervent opposition to Israel’s actions felt by many young people in countries beyond the U.S., its closest ally.

Read the full story here.

NYPD confirms 'accidental discharge' during Columbia raid

Brittany Kubicko

Brittany Kubicko and David K. Li

A sergeant accidentally fired his weapon when New York police raided Columbia University earlier this week to clear out protesters, authorities said today.

The sergeant, who was trying to make sure no one was hiding in a locked office in Hamilton Hall, switched his gun from his dominant right hand to his left, when he fired by mistake, officials said.

No one was hit or hurt by the discharge.

An NYPD spokesperson, Sgt. Tarik Sheppard, defended the department keeping quiet about the incident that happened three days earlier.

"Accidental discharges happen every single year and we average about eight a year and we don't get request (for information) on it," Sheppard told reporters. "If you do ask about it, we'll talk about it like we're doing right now." He added that bodycam video of the accidental discharged would not be released because doing so would go against protocol.

Princeton students begin hunger strike

A group of Princeton students, protesting in support of the Palestinian cause, are refusing food, a campus group said today.

Leaders of the campaign, Princeton Israeli Apartheid Divest, did not specify how many students are taking part in the hunger strike.

CIA working for release of American hostages, cease-fire

CIA Director William Burns will return to the Middle East to join talks about the possible release of American hostages in Gaza and a potential cease-fire, a source with knowledge of the matter told NBC News today.

Burns is expected to stop in Cairo where previous talks, aimed at bringing at least a temporary halt to Israel’s ongoing military action in Gaza, have taken place.

Police arrest 43 while clearing encampment at The New School in New York

Police arrested while 43 people clearing out a second college in New York City this morning, with officers moving in to remove protesters from The New School.

NYPD Chief of Patrol John Chell told NBC News that protesters were given the options of leaving or being arrested.

Earlier, the NYPD confirmed it was removing protesters from NYU.

Kaz Daughtry, deputy commissioner for operations, said on X that police had moved in at the request of The New School, to assist in dispersing the "illegal encampment inside their university center building and residence hall."

Daughtry shared police video showing officers inside the building addressing the camp. One office tells them: "You got two choices: Right now you're trespassing in this building, that is not a summons," adding that they can leave.

Daughtry also shared a letter from The New School requesting police action, which says protesters have ignored pleas to leave and have damaged university property.

"It is with deep regret that we ask NYPD's help in removing the trespassing individuals," the letter said.

The New School, based on Fifth Avenue, describes itself as a university "for scholarly activists, fearless artists, and convention-defying designers founded in 1919."

The school's biography on X says: "We welcome dissent."


NYPD arrest 13 while clearing 'illegal' encampment at NYU

At least 13 people were arrested this morning while police cleared a pro-Palestinian protest encampment at New York University, NYPD said.

NYPD Chief of Patrol John Chell told NBC News that protesters were given the options of leaving or being arrested.

Kaz Daughtry, NYPD deputy commissioner of operations, said in a post on X that police were moving in after NYU "requested our assistance to disperse the illegal encampment on their property.

Daughtry shared footage from a camera worn by an officer as several moved through the encampment advising protesters to leave.

"If you guys want to leave, you're more than welcome," the officer said. "Grab your stuff and go if you'd like to leave."

The clip showed multiple protesters emerging from tents and silently walking away, as a loudspeaker blared a message in the background.

Protest march stops traffic at UNC-Chapel Hill

A pro-Palestinian march at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
A pro-Palestinian march at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.WRAL

Pro-Palestinian activists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill stopped traffic with a protest march this morning, where several hundred chanted "long live the intifada," "from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free," and other slogans.

At least 30 protesters were arrested at UNC-Chapel Hill for allegedly refusing to leave an area when asked and for throwing items at police.

There were two Palestinian intifadas — in 1987, and between 2000 and 2005 — which saw widespread civil disobedience and violence that was met with a strong Israeli military response. In the second intifada, more than 4,000 Palestinians and 1,000 Israelis died, according to the U.N., which tallied deaths until 2007. 

Since then, the phrase has become part of the lexicon of pro-Palestinian protesters across the world, while different groups interpret the term differently. The Anti-Defamation League refers to intifada as a “reference to violent Palestinian uprisings against Israel, while the Council on American-Islamic Relations says it is used as “the Arabic word for uprising.” CAIR says using intifada as a term referencing “killing Jews” is a “false claim.

NYPD officers working to clear pro-Palestinian camp at NYU

Max Butterworth

Max Butterworth and Patrick Smith

Aerial pictures show NYPD officers moving in to clear an encampment at NYU in New York City this morning, with no apparent signs of resistance so far.

The images captured by a WNBC helicopter showed officers moving through the encampment. Earlier, images released by NYPD Deputy Commissioner Kaz Daughtry showed protesters willingly leaving the encampment.

An encampment at NYU's campus in New York City is cleared by officials on May 3, 2024.
via WNBC

Rutgers president declares New Brunswick protest over after agreement reached

The protest at Rutgers University's campus in New Brunswick, New Jersey, ended peacefully last night after the college management reached an agreement with protesters, the college's president said in a statement.

"I am writing to express my appreciation to all those who worked to bring a peaceful end to the protest on the Voorhees Mall on the College Avenue Campus of Rutgers–New Brunswick," Jonathan Holloway wrote.

He stressed that the college still has "a great deal of work ahead and will continue to be tested," in terms of how administrators balance freedom of speech with everyday college life.

Police arrest more than 200 protesters on UCLA’s campus as protests continue nationwide

Liz Kreutz

After a clash between police and protesters on UCLA’s campus, little remains of the encampment and more than 200 people were arrested. NBC’s Liz Kreutz reports for "TODAY: on the ongoing pro-Palestinian demonstrations.

French police remove protesters from Sciences Po campus

Max Butterworth

Pro-Palestinian protests in Paris
Miguel Medina / AFP - Getty Images
One student told reporters that around 50 students were still inside the rue Saint-Guillaume site when police entered. Students at Sciences Po have staged a number of protests, with some students furious over the Israel-Hamas war and ensuing humanitarian crisis in the besieged Palestinian territory of Gaza.
\Miguel Medina / AFP - Getty Images

A protester is escorted away by police during the evacuation of a pro-Gaza demonstration at the Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po) in Paris today.

Drone video captures pro-Palestinian encampment at University of Washington in Seattle

NBC News

A pro-Palestinian encampment has been set up at the University of Washington in Seattle in one of the campus courtyards. The demonstrators are calling for the university to cut ties with Israel and with Boeing, which supplies the Israeli military with aircraft.

UPenn says it asked Philadelphia officials for help after protests 'escalate'

The University of Pennsylvania said it reached out to city officials in Philadelphia this week after protest activity on and around campus "escalated."

"We have reached out to the City of Philadelphia to ensure we have the necessary resources to keep our community safe. The Mayor’s Office has asked for more information, and we are providing it," the college said in a statement yesterday evening.

An encampment has been on College Green on UPenn’s campus since April 25. The college has told the protesters in the encampment that they are violating its policies and that it was checking the IDs of those involved. Some disciplinary processes have already been started, it said.

Counterprotesters staged a march at UPenn yesterday and delivered a petition with 3,000 signatures to college leaders, NBC Philadelphia reported.

Campus protests at Portland State University

Max Butterworth

Police deployed a heavy presence on US university campuses after forcibly clearing away some weeks-long protests against Israel's war with Hamas.
John Rudoff / AFP - Getty Images
Pro-Palestinian encampments have sprung up at college campuses around the country with some protestors calling for schools to divest from Israeli interests amid the ongoing war in Gaza.
Mathieu Lewis-Rolland / Getty Images

Pro-Palestinian students and activists face police officers after protesters were evicted from the library on campus yesterday at Portland State University in Portland, Ore.

Portland police seek protesters after clearing barricaded library twice, arresting 30

Police in Portland are appealing for information on 18 protesters suspected to have barricaded themselves inside Portland State University's library before fleeing the scene.

The Portland Police Bureau said in a series of statements early today that its officers cleared out the library twice following a "days-long occupation," in a police operation in which seven officers sustained minor injuries.

At least 30 protesters were arrested over the course of yesterday, police said, after "trespassers illegally entered the building again despite efforts to secure it." Some have been booked into jail; none have so far been identified.

The PPB added that it will release the identities of the suspects soon.

Police surrounded the building from 6 a.m. (9 a.m. ET) yesterday. After orders to leave were ignored, police said, officers began clearing the building — while they met no resistance, they say they saw "barricades, acts of vandalism including damage to the fire alarm system," and homemade attempts to stop the officers' advance.

This included, police said, "floors coated with paint and soap, or some other slippery substance." One person let off a fire extinguisher at officers, the statement said, before being arrested.

Those still inside then fled the scene, some carrying improvised shields, police said. One "attempted to strike an officer with a shield" and was then arrested.

At 9:30 a.m. (12:30 p.m. ET), the building was declared clear and officers left — but protesters then tore down a fence and re-entered the building, prompting yet another police response and eight more arrests.

Campus calls to divest from Israel hinge on a tough question: Where’s the money exactly?

Pro-Palestinian protesters at Columbia University yelled “disclose, divest, we will not stop” as they broke into Hamilton Hall earlier this week, demanding the school drop any investments in companies doing business in Israel.

But shedding those stakes first requires identifying them, and even that step — disclosure — can get tricky fast, higher education finance experts say. Many large university endowments are murkily set up with thousands of individual funds that have their own rules on how they’re invested, few requirements to share their investments publicly, and third-party managers whose oversight of day-to-day trading can limit campus officials’ knowledge of their own schools’ portfolios.

“I think a lot of people believe an endowment is a piggy bank, and it’s not,” said Bill Guerrero, chief financial officer at the University of Bridgeport, a private university in Connecticut.

Read the full story here.

How the showdown at Columbia University between protesters and the NYPD unfolded

The first sign that the weekslong standoff at Columbia University was nearing a dramatic finale came after dusk when New York City police officers clad in riot gear began massing south of the east gate of the venerable Ivy League school.

It was around 9 p.m. Tuesday and the pro-Palestinian protesters standing in front of the wrought-iron gate could see the police gathering and were defiant.

“We will not move. We will not bend,” they chanted. “The occupation has to end.”

The protests had erupted on the campus April 17 when students — demanding a cease-fire in Gaza and that Columbia divest from corporations that could be profiting from the war — set up 50 tents on campus and refused to leave. The police cleared them out the next day, but the protesters returned.

This time, the NYPD was back at Columbia at the request of school administrators after a group of protesters had taken over Hamilton Hall, an on-campus building beside the gate at Amsterdam Avenue and 116th Street.

Read the full story here.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators ‘scream’ outside Columbia University president’s home

NBC News

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators gathered outside Columbia University President Minouche Shafik’s residence and chanted “shame on you” — as they unleashed the annual “primal scream.”

Pulitzer Prize Board recognizes student journalists on college campuses

The Pulitzer Prize Board recognized “the tireless efforts of student journalists across our nation’s college campuses” in a statement released yesterday.

The board gave recognition to the journalists “who are covering protests and unrest in the face of great personal and academic risk.”

The statement acknowledged “the extraordinary real-time reporting” of student journalists specifically at Columbia University, who covered the New York City Police Department being called to campus Tuesday night to breach a protester-occupied building.

“In the spirit of press freedom, these students worked to document a major national news event under difficult and dangerous circumstances and at risk of arrest,” the statement said.

Student journalists have been at the forefront of campus protest and encampment coverage as colleges and universities have restricted campus access to only those who are meant to be there, meaning the media has largely been barred.