Cops storm Columbia, bust 108 anti-Israel protesters after university prez finally tells NYPD to clear campus

More than 100 protesters were cuffed and hauled away from Columbia University when NYPD cops in riot gear swarmed the campus Thursday after the school’s president made the bombshell decision to clear a large anti-Israel protest encampment.

At least 108 protesters — including some who had to be carried away — were quickly moved onto waiting NYPD corrections buses. 

A huge crowd of other demonstrators then defiantly swarmed to the police vehicles to temporarily block them from leaving the scene.

In the wake of the busts, officers set about tearing down dozens of tents and dumping them in the trash.  

Protesters being handcuffed at Columbia. Robert Miller
A protester is lifted out of the encampment after the NYPD swarmed Columbia. Robert Miller for NY Post
At least 100 protesters were hauled away Thursday. Matt McDermott for NY Post

“I applaud the cops. They are doing the right thing,” one 20-year-old Columbia student, who didn’t want to be named, told The Post. “We don’t feel safe. We fear for our lives.”

“Remember who started this? Hamas, that terrorist group,” he added. “We pay a lot of money to come here and we should feel safe and protected.”

Dozens of cops in body armor and face shields descended on the Morningside Heights campus shortly after 1 p.m. 

Cops confront the protesters. Robert Miller

University president Minouche Shafik announced she “authorized” the NYPD to crack down on the encampment.

Dozens of students occupied the camp on Columbia’s South Lawn, which went up Wednesday morning, even after the administration had warned participants to clear out by 9 p.m. Wednesday — or risk preliminary suspensions.

The NYPD arrested 108 protesters — including Isra Hirsi, the daughter of “Squad” Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) — all of whom were slapped with trespassing summonses.

Two of those protesters were also handed obstruction of governmental administration summonses.

When cops first entered the campus, they warned demonstrators they would be arrested if they did not clear out. Armed with bags of zip ties, the officers set about detaining those who ignored the warnings.

The NYPD takes position on campus to make arrests. Robert Miller

While the student protesters sat quietly in rows and didn’t resist arrest, about 500 onlookers jeered and shouted at the authorities to stand down.

“Shame, shame, shame!” the crowd taunted, as others demanded, “Let them go!”

Some of the taunts were more “vile” — such as telling the officers to kill themselves and accusing them of being in the KKK, the NYPD said at an evening press conference.

Follow The Post’s coverage of the pro-terror protests at colleges across the US:

“Students have a right to free speech. They do not have a right to violate university policies and disrupt learning on campus,” Mayor Eric Adams said.

“I know the conflict in the Middle East has left many of us grieving and angry. This is a painful moment for our city, for our country and for the globe. New Yorkers have every right to express their sorrow. But that heartbreak does not give you the right to harass others, to spread hate.”

In the lead-up to the crackdown, the NYPD moved to block off 114th and 115th streets, which are south of the school’s main entrance.

Several lines of officers equipped with riot helmets were seen walking down Broadway south of 116th Street, a short distance from the campus gates, just before the NYPD moved in.

Meanwhile, Shafik had earlier emailed students, faculty and staff saying she’d requested the NYPD’s assistance — despite her hopes that the move would “never be necessary.”

NYPD cops in riot gear descended on Columbia University on Thursday. Matthew McDermott

“I took this extraordinary step because these are extraordinary circumstances,” she said. “The individuals who established the encampment violated a long list of rules and policies.”

The student protesters were warned several times to clear out, the embattled prez added.

A detained protester is brought onto a bus after the NYPD swarmed Columbia. Jonah Elkowitz / NY Post
A person is detained by the NYPD at Columbia University. Jonah Elkowitz / NY Post
The NYPD takes position on Columbia University’s campus. Robert Miller

“We also tried through a number of channels to engage with their concerns and offered to continue discussions if they agreed to disperse,” Shafik said in her email.

“I regret that all of these attempts to resolve the situation were rejected by the students involved.”

Antisemitism controversy at Columbia University: Key events

  • More than 280 anti-Israel demonstrators were cuffed at Columbia and the City of New York campuses overnight in a “massive” NYPD operation.
  • One hundred and nine people were nabbed at the Ivy League campus after cops responded to Columbia’s request to help oust a destructive mob that had illegally taken over the Hamilton Hall academic building late Tuesday, NYC Mayor Eric Adams and police said.
  • Hizzoner blamed the on-campus chaos on insurgents who have a “history of escalating situations and trying to create chaos” instead of protesting peacefully.
  • Columbia’s embattled president Minouche Shafik, who has faced mounting calls to resign for not cracking down sooner, issued a statement Wednesday saying the on-campus violence had “pushed the university to the brink.”
  • Columbia University president Minouche Shafik was accused of “gross negligence” while testifying before Congress. Shafik refused to say if the phrase “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” is antisemitic.
  • More than 100 Columbia professors signed a letter defending students who support the “military action” by Hamas.

It comes after Shafik had sent a letter to the NYPD’s deputy commissioner of legal matters Wednesday asking cops to step in because students were now “trespassing” on school property in the wake of their suspensions.

Protesters fill the Columbia University grounds. Robert Miller
Parts of the encampment are removed by officials. Robert Miller
NYPD cops and protesters face off. Robert Miller
At least 100 protesters were arrested by the NYPD. Jonah Elkowitz / NY Post
Multiple individuals are detained by NYPD officers at Columbia University. Matthew McDermott
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators gather as the NYPD loads buses with arrested Columbia University students. Matthew McDermott
Pro-Palestinian protesters in handcuffs being led onto NYPD buses. Matthew McDermott
A pro-Palestinian protester wearing a face mask in handcuffs being led onto an NYPD bus. Matthew McDermott
The NYPD arresting students on the campus of Columbia University on Thursday afternoon, April 18, 2024. Matt McDermott for NY Post

“With great regret, we request the NYPD’s help to remove these individuals. We understand that the first step in this process will be for NYPD to use its LRAD technology to inform the participants in the encampment that they must disperse and give them time to leave prior to taking any additional action,” her letter stated.

“We trust that you will take care and caution when removing any individual from our campus. The safety and security of our community is our highest priority. We appreciate your commitment to assist us in a peaceful and respectful manner at this difficult time.”

In his own memo, NYPD Deputy Commissioner Michael Gerber wrote that the authorities were empowered to break up the protest at Shafik’s behest.