Columbia Protests Continue

In a dramatic turn of events, hundreds of anti-Israel protesters at Columbia University's Manhattan campus have taken over Hamilton Hall, an academic building used by the dean and other senior offices. The takeover occurred early Tuesday morning, shortly before 1 a.m., when the agitators gained access to the building and began barricading entrances with metal gates, wooden tables and chairs, and zip ties.

The unruly group also smashed windows, unfurled a Palestinian flag, and chanted anti-Israel slogans. Outside, the protesters formed a human barricade, chanting for Palestine's freedom and demanding three things from the university.

This escalation in the ongoing protest against Columbia University's investments in Israel comes after the university set a deadline for students to leave their encampment of around 120 tents or face suspension. The university confirmed that it began handing out suspensions on Monday night with the help of local and state law enforcement officers. However, some students chose to escalate their demonstrations instead of complying with the university's demands.

At least three facility workers were inside Hamilton Hall when the anti-Israel agitators stormed in, and they were allowed to leave around 12:40 a.m. One worker reportedly yelled that he had been "held hostage." The group also allegedly covered the cameras inside the facility, further escalating the situation. It is not clear how the protesters gained access to the building or if any university policies were violated in the process.

Tuesday morning's events come almost two weeks after the initial formation of the "Gaza Solidarity Encampment" on April 18. That same day, University President Minouche Shafik called for law enforcement to sweep the encampment and arrest the agitators, resulting in over 100 student arrests.

However, the protesters returned to their encampment and showed resilience, and the university mostly allowed them to remain. Negotiations between officials, including Shafik, and organizers failed to produce a peaceful resolution on Monday, leading to the university's decision to begin suspending students.

As the situation at Columbia University continues to escalate, the Israel-Palestine conflict remains at the forefront of the protests. The agitators are calling for divestment from Israel, more transparency regarding the university's investments, and blanket amnesty for students involved in the demonstration. However, university officials have made it clear that they cannot meet these demands, citing their commitment to academic freedom and responsibility to uphold university policies.

As the chaos unfolds at Columbia University, the New York Police Department has not yet intervened, instead choosing to remain outside the campus and only enter if there are reports of violence or injuries. Meanwhile, the university has urged students to comply with the suspension orders and to refrain from participating in any further unlawful activities.

As tensions continue to rise, it remains to be seen how the university will handle the situation and what actions, if any, will be taken to resolve the ongoing protest.

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