Student-Led Occupation of Columbia University Draws Condemnation from Biden

Key Takeaways:

– President Biden condemns the student-led occupation of Hamilton Hall at Columbia University.
– The protest against the war in Gaza also received criticism from Gov. Hochul and Mayor Adams.
– Students involved in the building takeover face expulsion.
– Authorities deny the presence of ‘outside agitators’ amid protests.
– NYPD Commissioner Caban and Mayor Adams scheduled a media brief on the situation.

President Biden’s Stand on the University Occupation

President Joe Biden denounced the student-led occupation of Hamilton Hall, an academic building at Columbia University, on Tuesday. This development comes as protesters against the war in Gaza took control of the structure, leading to its lockdown by the institution.

Andrew Bates, Deputy Press Secretary at the White House, shared Biden’s stance with NPR. “President Biden respects the right to free expression, but protests must be peaceful and lawful,” said Bates. “Forcibly taking over buildings is not peaceful — it is wrong. And hate speech and hate symbols have no place in America.”

Local Officials Weigh In

Governor Hochul and Mayor Adams, also critical of the situation, stated they were maintaining communication with university administrators. The controversial demonstration has seen an increase in tension over the past week.

The Governor advocated for punitive action either by the university or law enforcement against those involved in the conflict. This sentiment was echoed later in the day when university administrators announced potential expulsion for students involved in occupying the building.

Mayor Adams, during a briefing at City Hall, alluded to the alleged involvement of ‘outside agitators’ in the protests—an assertion repeatedly refuted by the student protestors. He stated that the city administration was staying in close contact with Columbia administrators and confirmed requests for NYPD presence along the campus perimeter.

Reactions from Lawmakers and NYPD

Contrary to President Biden’s stance, left-leaning congress representatives, including Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Jamaal Bowman, visited the encampment to show support for the protestors.

However, NYPD’s patrol chief, John Chell, called for stringent measures against the protestors on X (formerly Twitter), advocating for the expulsion of students and termination of professors accused of promoting hate and antisemitism. Mayor Adams defended this sentiment, underscoring the right to expression of all New Yorkers.

The occupation began after midnight at Hamilton Hall, a central administrative structure at Columbia University previously known for similar occupations in 1968 and 1985. The university restricted campus access shortly after, allowing only dormitory residents and essential services staff to stay.

As the situation unfolds, Mayor Adams and NYPD Commissioner Caban are set to provide a media brief on the Columbia protests. The city, state, and national authorities continue to monitor the situation closely as they decide on the best course of action.

Stay tuned for more updates on this developing story.


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