Pro-Palestinian protesters seize Columbia University building | American Universities

Dozens of protesters have taken over a building at Columbia University in New York, barricaded entrances and hoisted the Palestinian flag outside windows, the latest demonstrations against the Israel-Hamas war to spread to college campuses across the United States.

Video footage shows protesters on Columbia's Manhattan campus locking arms in front of Hamilton Hall early Tuesday and carrying furniture and metal barricades into the building, one of many campus occupations during the 1968 civil rights and anti-Vietnam War protests.

Posts on the Instagram page for protest organizers after midnight urged people to protect the camp and join them at Hamilton Hall.

Student radio station WKCR-FM aired a dramatization of the hall takeover — nearly 12 hours after Monday's 2 p.m. deadline in which protesters faced about 120 tents or suspension. Representatives for the university did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment early Tuesday.

Universities across the U.S. are grappling with how to get rid of encampments as commencement ceremonies approach, with some continuing negotiations and others turning to force and ultimatums, which have resulted in clashes with police.

Demonstrators from the pro-Palestinian camp on Columbia's campus display a banner as they barricade themselves inside Hamilton Hall. Photo: Alex Kent/Getty Images

Dozens of people were arrested Monday during protests at universities in Texas, Utah and Virginia, while Columbia said it began suspending students hours before the Hamilton Hall takeover.

Demonstrators are fighting over the Israel-Hamas war and its mounting death toll, and the number of arrests at campuses across the country is approaching 1,000 as the final days of classes wrap up. The outcry forces colleges to reckon with their financial ties to Israel and their support for free speech. Some Jewish students say the protests have become anti-Semitic and have made them afraid to set foot on campus.

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At the University of Texas at Austin, at least 40 demonstrators were arrested Monday, a lawyer said. The conflict escalated on the campus of 53,000 students in the state capital, where more than 50 protesters were arrested last week.

Later on Monday, dozens of rioting officers at the University of Utah tried to break up a camp outside the university president's office late in the afternoon. Police dragged students by their hands and feet, sawed down the poles that held up the tents, and zip-tied those who refused to disperse. Seventeen people were arrested.

The university said camping overnight on school property is against the law, and students were given multiple warnings to disperse before police were called.

The plight of the arrested students has become a central part of the protests, with students and a growing number of teachers demanding amnesty for the protesters. Whether suspensions and legal records follow students through their adult lives is at issue.

Gaza protesters arrested by police at University of Texas – video

The Texas protest and other — including Canada and Europe — early demonstrations in Colombia continued. On Monday, the student activists defied the 2 pm deadline to vacate the camp. Instead, there were hundreds of protesters. A few counter-protesters waved Israeli flags, and one shouted, “Where are the anti-Hamas slogans?” They had a sign saying.

Although the university did not call in police to remove the demonstrators, school spokesman Ben Chang said the suspensions had begun but could provide few details. Protest organizers said they were unaware of any suspensions as of Monday evening.

Colombia's handling of the protests prompted federal complaints.

A class-action lawsuit on behalf of Jewish students alleges breach of contract by Columbia, alleging that despite policies and promises, the university failed to maintain a safe learning environment. It challenges the move away from in-person classes and seeks swift court action that would require Columbia to provide protections to students.

Meanwhile, a legal group representing pro-Palestinian students is urging the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights to investigate Columbia's handling of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

A university spokesperson declined to comment on the complaints.

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