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NYC says half of those arrested at 2 pro-Palestinian campus protests were not students

New York Police Department officers load arrested protesters from Columbia University onto a bus, on Tuesday in New York.
Julius Motal
/
AP
New York Police Department officers load arrested protesters from Columbia University onto a bus, on Tuesday in New York.

Updated May 04, 2024 at 17:27 PM ET

New York City officials say nearly half of the 282 people arrested at pro-Palestinian protests on two campuses this past week are not currently affiliated with either school.

The arrest breakdown was released on Thursday by the New York City Police Department and Mayor Eric Adams following mounting pressure for Adams to reveal how many of those arrested at Columbia University and The City College of New York were students after his repeated claims that "outside agitators" guided the protests that led to the arrests.

City officials said 29% of the 112 people arrested at a protest at Columbia on Tuesday were not affiliated with the school. At the City College protest, 60% of the 170 arrested were not affiliated with the school, according to the city's press release.

Police were sent to Columbia University at the request of school administrators, who had said protesters' occupation of Hamilton Hall was led by individuals not affiliated with Columbia.

As students at campuses across the country protest Israel's war against Hamas in Gaza, with many demanding their universities divest from Israel, school officials have requested police action. More than 2,100 people have been arrested at pro-Palestinian protests on college campuses in recent weeks. But officials in some cities have refused calls from school administrators to disband police to campus protests.

Adams told NPR on Thursday that he sent police to Columbia after learning that "one of the outside agitators' husband was arrested for federal terrorism charges."

He called that the "tipping point," adding "I knew I could not sit back and state that I'm going to allow this to continue to escalate."

Nahla Al-Arian, the person he was referring to, told The Associated Press that the mayor had misrepresented her husband's history and her role in the protest.

After a mass of demonstrators marched from Columbia to nearby City College on Tuesday evening, university public safety officers made 25 arrests before calling in the NYPD, which made additional arrests. Police said school officials made the call in response to "violence and vandalism, not in response to peaceful protest."

Students and onlookers have criticized the heavy use of police force at the Manhattan campuses — and at other schools.

City officials have not released further identifying information about the list of individuals arrested at Tuesday's campus protests.

"We turned everything over to the school, and it is up to the school to determine if they're going to release the names of students and non-students," Mayor Adams told NY1's morning show on Thursday.

The city also said that protesters' refusal to speak with police has hindered the arrest identification process.

"Most arrested did not cooperate with the NYPD and would not provide information — slowing down the process of identifying whether they had any affiliation with Columbia or CCNY," read the city's press release.

Copyright 2024 NPR

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Emma Bowman
[Copyright 2024 NPR]