Skip to content
View Featured Image

Columbia Students Continue Gaza Solidarity Encampment

Above photo: Gaza solidarity encampment. Wyatt Souers.

In Defiance Of Police Crackdown.

The sun once again shines on the students occupying the main lawn of Columbia University which continues despite a heavy coordinated crackdown.

On the morning of April 19, Columbia students emerged from their tents camped out on the main lawn of Columbia University’s campus in New York City, after having held their ground for over 48 hours in what organizers dubbed the “Gaza solidarity encampment.” This action was coordinated entirely by the students, who are part of various organizations including Columbia University Apartheid Divest, Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine, and Columbia Jewish Voice for Peace.

On Friday, inspired by the bold action taken by student organizers, students at both the University of North Carolina and Miami University in Ohio have begun to stage their own encampment in solidarity with Columbia students and Gaza. In response to the upsurge in student solidarity actions, National Students for Justice in Palestine has issued a “call to action” for students in universities across the country to “seize the university and force the administration to divest, for the people of Gaza.”

Outside of Columbia University, a large crowd has taken to the streets in solidarity with the encampment.

Students initially took over the lawn at 4 a.m. on Wednesday, April 19, and managed to hold their ground for over 24 hours. The energy on the ground at the encampment reached a peak last night when arrests of students on campus appeared to be imminent. Over 400 students poured into campus and formed a march around the encampment to protect students from a potential crackdown by either the New York Police Department or the Columbia administration. Students chanted “We will not stop, we will not rest, we will divest!” Soon, Columbia President Minoushe Shafik would call in the New York Police Department to arrest 122 students on Thursday afternoon. Police then confiscated student belongings, throwing them haphazardly in an alleyway in between dorm buildings on campus.

After the mass arrest, the hundreds of students who had been picketing around the encampment in solidarity moved immediately into action. Around 1,000 poured into the other side of the lawn to start a second encampment, and have been able to successfully hold the lawn since then.

The last of the arrested students were released late into the night on Thursday, to resounding cheers from fellow students and supporters who stood outside of the 1 Police Plaza NYPD headquarters in solidarity with those held inside.

Early on day 2 of the encampment, three students at Barnard College, the women’s college that is part of the larger Columbia University system, woke up to their suspensions via email and the disabling of their student IDs. The Columbia administration is reportedly issuing a new wave of suspensions to any student who attempts to pick up their belongings.

Columbia students are drawing from the example of the 1968 occupation of the University’s Hamilton Hall by students in protest of the Vietnam War. This time around, students are protesting their institution’s complicity in the ongoing Israeli genocide in Gaza. Their demands are that “Columbia University divests all finances, including the endowment, from corporations that profit from Israeli apartheid, genocide, and occupation in Palestine.”

“Morale on campus is high. People initially expected that we were gonna bleed members on the second day, but that’s not happening,” Grant Miner, Vice President of the Student Workers of Columbia, the union of graduate student workers, told Peoples Dispatch on Thursday, shortly before he himself was arrested. “We’re here to stay until we get divestment. We won’t be moved until we are moved by force, or until Columbia meets our demands. No compromises.” Miner was one of the last to be released late on Thursday night.

Sign Up To Our Daily Digest

Independent media outlets are being suppressed and dropped by corporations like Google, Facebook and Twitter. Sign up for our daily email digest before it’s too late so you don’t miss the latest movement news.