NYPD clears out protesters at Columbia University, arrest dozens, including Rep. Ilhan Omar's Daughter

The NYPD removed a pro-Palestinian protest encampment at Columbia University on Thursday and arrested more than 100 demonstrators, including the daughter of a prominent Minnesota congresswoman.

Several students involved in the protest said they also were suspended from Columbia and Barnard College, including Isra Hirsi, who is the daughter of Democratic U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar.

"I just received notice that I am 1 of 3 students suspended for standing in solidarity with Palestinians facing genocide," Isra posted to X Thursday. 

Police said 108 people, including Hirsi, were charged with trespassing at the private Ivy League institution. Two people were also charged with obstructing government administration.

New York Mayor Eric Adams said the city was asked in writing by university officials to remove the encampment.

"Students have a right to free speech, but do not have a right to violate university policies and disrupt learning on campus," Adams said.

The students had been protesting on campus since early Wednesday, opposing Israeli military action in Gaza and demanding the school divest from companies they claim "profit from Israeli apartheid."

In a statement Thursday, Columbia University President Minouche Shafik wrote: "This morning, I had to make a decision that I hoped would never be necessary."

Shafik said she authorized the NYPD to begin clearing protesters away from the South Lawn of Morningside campus that had been set up by students in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

"I took this extraordinary step because these are extraordinary circumstances. The individuals who established the encampment violated a long list of rules and policies," Shafik said in her statement.

Police moved in early Thursday afternoon, using zip ties to arrest protesters and escort them to waiting buses before removing the tents.

Police Commissioner Edward Caban said the arrests were peaceful and the protesters were cooperative.

Pro-Palestinian protesters reorganized on campus a short time later, chanting, "Shame"

In a tweet posted on "X", Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine – an account with over 14,000 followers – said, "As of 4 AM this morning, Columbia University students have occupied the center of campus, launching our Gaza Solidarity Encampment. We demand divestment and an end to Columbia’s complicity in genocide."

SkyFOX was over the scene around 10 a.m. Organizers included two groups that Columbia previously suspended for unauthorized protests: Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace. 

Shafik, appeared before Congress on Wednesday and unequivocally denounced antisemitism on her campus, rebutting claims that she has allowed Columbia to become a hotbed of hatred.

"We condemn the antisemitism that is so pervasive today," Columbia President Nemat Shafik said in an opening statement. "Antisemitism has no place on our campus, and I am personally committed to doing everything I can to confront it directly."

With the Associated Press.