Pro-Palestinian protesters arrested at New York University and New School

Oliver Laughland

Police began clearing out protesters at New York University (NYU) in downtown Manhattan on Friday as pressure continued to build on the city’s mayor, Eric Adams, to divulge more details on identities and affiliations of those within the 282 people arrested at uptown Columbia and City College of New York (CCNY) on Tuesday night – after he blamed “outside agitators” for prompting a crackdown.

Campuses elsewhere were relatively quiet overnight, while the recent weeks of escalated pro-Palestinian protests across more than 40 campuses nationwide have resulted in almost 2,200 arrests, according to an Associated Press tally.

The New York police department (NYPD) deputy commissioner of operations, Kaz Daughtry, posted on X on Friday morning that NYU requested police assistance “to disperse the illegal encampment on their property”. Daughtry said police “are on site”.

Officers arrested 13 protesters at NYU and 43 at the New School on Friday morning, the NYPD said.

On Thursday, the Guardian and other media pushed the NYPD and the mayor to give more details on non-students arrested at protests in New York earlier this week, whom Adams said unduly influenced students in particular at Columbia to occupy a building on campus, which police cleared on Tuesday night.

The NYPD issued a press release saying that among those arrested at Columbia, “approximately 29% of individuals were not affiliated” with the school, while 60% of people arrested at CCNY protests were not affiliated with the school. It was not immediately clear how the police were defining “affiliation”, and the release did not break down arrest figures in further detail.

“What we have seen, and what has been made clear by the evidence emerging after this week’s arrests, is that professional, external actors are involved in these protests and demonstrations,” the NYPD commissioner, Edward Caban, said in the release. “These individuals are not university students, they are not affiliated with either the institutions or campuses in question, and they are working to escalate the situation.”

One police officer accidentally discharged his gun inside Columbia’s Hamilton Hall while clearing out protesters camped inside on Tuesday night, authorities said. No one was injured, the NYPD said on Thursday. He was trying to use the flashlight attached to his gun at the time and instead fired a single round that struck a frame on the wall.

There were other officers but no students in the immediate vicinity, officials said. Body-camera footage shows when the officer’s gun went off, but the district attorney’s office is conducting a review, a standard practice.

A tally by the Associated Press recorded at least 56 incidents of arrests at 43 different US colleges or universities since 18 April. The figures are based on AP reporting and statements from universities and law enforcement agencies.

Early on Thursday, officers surged against a crowd of demonstrators at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), ultimately taking at least 200 protesters into custody.

Students have stepped up their protests, demanding a complete ceasefire in Gaza and divestment by their universities in companies with ties to Israel.

Israel has branded the protests antisemitic, while Israel’s critics say it uses those allegations to silence opposition. Although some protesters have been caught on camera making antisemitic remarks or violent threats, protest organizers – some of whom are Jewish – call it a peaceful movement to defend Palestinian rights and protest the war.

Joe Biden on Thursday defended the right of students to peaceful protest but decried the disorder of recent days.

Meanwhile, protest encampments at other schools across the US have been cleared by police – resulting in more arrests – or closed voluntarily, some with an agreement with protesters not to disrupt commencements.

(Source: The Guardian)