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April 30, 2024 - US university protests

What we covered here

  • Over 100 protesters were arrested at Columbia University and City College of New York — most at Columbia — according to a law enforcement official.
  • Columbia University property, including Hamilton Hall, was cleared two hours after officers entered the campus to remove people protesting Israel's war in Gaza. The university has asked NYPD to maintain its presence on campus until May 17.
  • Columbia has been the epicenter, but protests have been roiling universities across the country, with administrations taking different approaches to the encampments that have sprouted up in support of the Palestinian cause.
  • Some schools — like Yale and Brown — have cleared encampments on campus, while chaos has engulfed other schools. Classes were canceled at UNC Chapel Hill, where dozens of students were detained, and at least five protesters were arrested at Florida State University.
2:21 a.m. ET, May 1, 2024

Our live coverage of the protests rocking US campuses has moved here
12:35 a.m. ET, May 1, 2024

Over 100 protesters arrested across 2 New York college campuses, law enforcement official says

NYPD officers detain students at Columbia University in New York City on April 30. Charly Triballeau/AFP/Getty Images

Over 100 protesters were arrested Tuesday at Columbia University and City College of New York, according to a law enforcement official.

Most of the arrests were made at Columbia, including about two dozen protesters who police say tried to prevent officers from entering the campus, the official said.

Tactical teams at Columbia first set up a perimeter around the campus to hold back protesters and prevent further arrests, according to the official. Offers then entered the campus through multiple entry points.

12:35 a.m. ET, May 1, 2024

"It's still a student-fueled movement," Columbia student magazine editor says

Jonas Du, editor-in-chief of a Columbia student magazine, told CNN that the protests on campus are student-fueled regardless of any outsider involvement.

It’s “hard to say” whether those arrested from Columbia's Hamilton Hall were students or from outside the institution, the Columbia Sundial editor said.

“Even though campus has been locked down to Columbia ID holders, now there has been ways of getting in, getting non-affiliated into campus. But for the most part you need Columbia IDs, you need students to provide you with IDs that can get you into campus," said Du, who is a junior student at the university.

Du said he believes there is “evidence” of outside organizations behind the occupation's planning, but he also says numerous Columbia students were inside Hamilton Hall. 

He said he recognized “many, many Columbia students in the crowd” that formed human chains around the entrances to Hamilton Hall while reporting on the protests. 

“At the end of the day, it's still a student-fueled movement. It wouldn’t have gotten to (this) extent without the of the student organizations here.” 
Du said students received a text message and email alert from the school stating that a shelter-in-place order had been issued, asking them to remain in their dorms and not to go on campus.

"But all of us knew that that was sort of a signal that the NYPD was going to raid campus," he added.

1:08 a.m. ET, May 1, 2024

Video shows Arizona State University police officer removing protester’s hijab during arrest

This screengrab shows a campus police officer removing a hijab off a protester’s head at Arizona State University, Phoenix, Arizona. Mass Liberation AZ

Video taken over the weekend at Arizona State University shows a campus police officer removing a hijab from a protester’s head during her arrest.

The blurred video, obtained by Mass Liberation AZ and provided to CNN by attorney Zayed Al-Sayyed, who represents the women, shows several ASU Police Department officers surrounding a woman whose hands are held behind her back as one of the officers removes her hijab.

People nearby can be heard yelling, “You’re violating her privacy,” and “Give it back.”

The officers then pull the woman’s sweatshirt hood over her head and a bystander yells, “So she can wear a hood but not her hijab?” At one point one of the officers blocks the woman from the view of those taking the video, as a person yells, “let her go!”

A lawyer representing her and three other women who said it also happened to them is demanding accountability.

Al-Sayyed, who said the arrests took place early Saturday, did not identify the women but indicated that three of them are students at the university and all four are Phoenix-area residents. They are facing criminal trespass charges.

Upon being taken into custody, Al-Sayyed said, the women explained the significance of a hijab and “begged” to keep their hijabs, but he said they were told that their hijabs had to be removed for safety reasons.

“They never expected that an officer … who’s sworn to protect and serve is going to violate their most basic protected right under the United States Constitution, which is the right to practice their religion. So they're hurt,” Al-Sayyed said.

After being detained and bused to jail, the women were not given their hijabs back, Al-Sayyed said.

Around 15 hours later, when he was finally given access to his clients, Al-Sayyed said he was able to bring them new hijabs.

The Arizona chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-AZ), condemned the university police for the recorded incident and others like it and called for a full investigation.
“This act represents a blatant infringement upon the religious liberties of peaceful protesters. It is profoundly distressing for the affected women, and ASU Police must conduct a thorough investigation into this matter,” Azza Abuseif, executive director of CAIR-AZ, said in an email to CNN.

In a statement to CNN, the university said, “This matter is under review.” CNN has reached out to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office for comment.

11:41 p.m. ET, April 30, 2024

Protests will continue despite police presence at Columbia, student negotiator says

A lead student negotiator for protesters at Columbia University has told CNN that protests will continue on the campus despite the school's request for a police presence.

The university has asked NYPD to maintain its presence on campus until May 17.
"I’m very confident that students will continue this movement even after all this brutality against them," negotiator Mahmoud Khalil said, adding that students still have the right to protest despite increased security.

Since negotiations between student protesters and the Columbia University administration began two weeks ago, the university has not viewed them as an anti-war movement, he said. 

"Instead, they dealt with it as an internal student discipline matter. They negotiated with us about bringing food and blankets to the encampment. They refused to acknowledge that this actually is more than that, this is a nationwide movement.

"This is a movement that asks Columbia to divest its investments from the companies that are fuelling the war in Gaza right now,” said Khalil, who is a second-year graduate student at Columbia.

Tensions escalated on campus when officers entered Columbia's Hamilton Hall, which had been occupied by protesters since the early hours of Tuesday, and dozens were seen being arrested.

Khalil said that "the autonomous group decided to take that building when they felt the university is not answering their demands" and was "alienating" them.

12:34 a.m. ET, May 1, 2024

Police presence at Columbia may dampen graduation celebrations, CNN journalist and student says

CNN's Julia Vargas Jones reports live from Columbia University. CNN
Julia Vargas Jones, a CNN journalist and Columbia Journalism School graduate student, said the university's request for an on-campus police presence through May 17 will only "dampen the mood even more" as students and their families prepare for graduation.
NYPD swarmed the university Tuesday night after the university authorized them to go into the campus to clear out a building being occupied by protesters. CNN has witnessed dozens of arrests.
"Graduation is May 15. That is my graduation as well. I have family coming from Brazil to come watch me walk across the stage and get my diploma. I hope of course, as everyone does, that this (graduation) can happen," Jones said.

"But at the same time, is there a climate for celebration, for graduation?" Jones said.

Jones said she's unsure the climate on campus will be celebratory as graduation nears.

"I spoke to a lot of students on campus today and students were just feeling caught in between. I don't really see celebration being something we flock to in the coming weeks," she said. "I'm interested to see who will actually attend graduation."

Jones said she has not witnessed any violent altercations as she reported from inside Columbia’s campus Tuesday night. After the campus was cleared by NYPD, Jones described the atmosphere as quiet enough to “hear a pin drop.”

12:34 a.m. ET, May 1, 2024

NYPD used flash bangs to breach Columbia building where doors were barricaded

NYPD officers used flash-bang grenades to breach Columbia's Hamilton Hall, which protesters had barricaded themselves inside Tuesday, the police department told CNN.

The building's doors had been barricaded with chairs, tables and vending machines, and windows had been covered with newspaper, the NYPD said.

When a flash-bang grenade is deployed, it emits a bright flash and a very loud bang, often used to shock and disorient. 
Video posted by NYPD Deputy Commissioner Kaz Daughtry shows officers searching a bookshelf-lined office after busting the door's lock with a hammer.

Another video shows officers packing a stairwell and passing chairs to one another.

At least 50 officers had earlier used an elevated ramp to climb into the building through a window. 

12:34 a.m. ET, May 1, 2024

Columbia University property has been cleared, NYPD says

Columbia University’s property has been cleared, the New York Police Department told CNN, less than two hours after officers entered the school’s campus in Morningside Heights.

Hamilton Hall has also been cleared, the NYPD says, and nobody was wounded during the operation. 

The NYPD is still monitoring different locations for protesters across the city, they said.

12:34 a.m. ET, May 1, 2024

Photos show NYPD action at Columbia University

The New York Police Department entered the Columbia University campus late Tuesday evening after receiving a letter from the university authorizing them to go into the campus, a law enforcement source familiar with the situation told CNN. 
Officers entered Hamilton Hall, which had been occupied by protesters since the early morning hours Tuesday.

Dozens of people have been arrested.

NYPD officers use a special vehicle to enter Columbia University's Hamilton Hall, which has been occupied by student protesters in New York on Tuesday. David Dee Delgado/Reuters

Police detain a protester. David Dee Delgado/Reuters

A NYPD bus transports people detained at Columbia University. Charly Triballeau/AFP/Getty Images
Police stand guard on campus at Columbia University. Caitlin Ochs/Reuters

Protesters walk with barricades as police maintain a cordon around campus. David Dee Delgado/Reuters

NYPD officers in riot gear march onto the Columbia University campus. Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images