Mass arrests at Columbia spark solidarity protests on college campuses across the US

Tents and demonstrations are popping up on college campuses across the country after Columbia University students’ protest of the war in Gaza resulted in the arrests of more than 100 people.

Pro-Palestinian students and faculty — among others, including students from NYU — kicked off their demonstrations on Wednesday, erecting tents and posting signs on Columbia’s campus in upper Manhattan.

Their ongoing efforts, dubbed the Gaza Solidarity Encampment, are in protest of “continued financial investment in corporations that profit from Israeli apartheid, genocide, and military occupation of Palestine,” according to a news release from its organizers, the Columbia University Apartheid Divest, a student-led coalition of more than 100 different organizations.

On Thursday, hundreds of NYPD officers descended on Columbia’s South Lawn in Morningside Heights at the request of President Minouche Shafik. They arrested 108 people, all of whom are now facing trespassing charges. Two of them were additionally hit with counts of obstructing police.

The protesters, however, have remained undeterred and their on-campus occupation continued on Saturday. Their resolve has since inspired others to take action against the war in Gaza, including the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, who launched a rally of their own on Friday.

The UNC SJP said they “stand in solidarity with Columbia students who were unjustly detained for peaceful protesting by setting up an encampment on their own university.” They said they were immediately informed that erecting their own tents were in violation of campus policy.

“In an attempt to avoid their tents from being seized, students put their tents on chairs as to ‘comply’ with administration,” the SJP said. “When police and UNC facility crew came to forcibly remove the tents, protestors collectively lifted up their tents and marched around the quad.”

Hundreds of miles away, the SJP at Ohio State announced their own “emergency rally in solidarity with Columbia students.” Despite efforts from the administration to quash the demonstration in New York, the group said, “Columbia students have bravely occupied their campus in peaceful protest.”

The Boston University SJP similarly praised those occupying the Columbia campus while announcing an “emergency protest.”

“What is happening at Columbia University is but a microcosm of a larger war being waged on campuses across North America — a war waged by a fascist, McCarthyst ruling elite long hellbent on destroying our movement for Palestinian liberation,” the group said on social media. “They will fail in their efforts, and we will be victorious. Until then, the struggle continues.”

Harvard’s Palestine Solidarity Committee meanwhile announced a student walkout “in solidarity with steadfast Columbia students.”

“We stand in solidarity with Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine while remaining firm in our calls for Harvard to DIVEST from the occupation of Palestine,” the group said.

Yale students, who have been staging their own demonstrations all week, also voiced their support while calling on their administrators to pull their money from military weapons manufacturers.

The series of protests and demonstrations are only the latest in the months since Hamas terrorists invaded Israel in the early hours of Oct. 7. The group launched thousands of rockets from the Gaza Strip, clearing the way for hundreds of armed terrorists to devastate neighborhoods and military bases along Israel’s southern border. Some 1,200 people were killed during the initial raid.

The attack triggered an onslaught of Israeli airstrikes and ground assaults, resulting in the deaths of at least 34,000 Palestinians, according to figures from the Gaza Health Ministry.