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Columbia on lock down after pro-Palestinian protesters take over building

Three janitors temporarily held hostage: report

Columbia University locked down its campus Tuesday to everyone but essential personnel and students after anti-Israel protesters smashed windows and barricaded themselves inside Hamilton Hall early in the morning.

A staff member in the building at the time said he was temporarily taken hostage, The Columbia Spectator reports.

As of 9 a.m. Tuesday, the New York university even barred the media from campus “as a safety measure,” a news update states.

“Access to campus has been limited to students residing in residential buildings on campus and employees who provide essential services to campus buildings, labs, and residential student life,” according to the announcement.

The Spectator reports more:

The [lock down] comes six hours after around three dozen protesters occupied Hamilton Hall, pledging to remain inside the building until the University meets its stated demands, including divestment from Israel, financial transparency, and amnesty for students detained and suspended in the mass arrests on April 18.

Protesters sealed off the building minutes after entry, barricading the doors with wooden tables, chairs, and zip ties. Demonstrators outside moved the metal tables outside Hartley Hall to the front of the doors, securing them shut with ropes and zip ties.

A facilities worker said he was temporarily held hostage but allowed to leave about 10 minutes later, according to the student newspaper. Later, two other janitors said they also were temporarily held hostage, according to Fox News.

Several students also reported being assaulted by protesters trying to enter the building, according to an X video by freelance reporter Jessica Schwalb.

Pro-Palestinian protests have been going on for weeks at Columbia, with some demonstrators establishing a “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” on the lawn.

On Monday, university spokesperson Ben Chang said students began receiving suspension notices after ignoring repeated warnings to leave their encampment by 2 p.m. that day.

“Students who agreed to leave and sign a form committing to abide by University policies will be allowed to complete the semester,” Chang said in a campus update.

Some faculty members, many of them wearing masks, joined the protesters just ahead of the 2 p.m. deadline, locking arms to form a human chain around the encampment, according to videos on X.

As of Tuesday morning, the pro-Palestinian demonstrators continue to occupy the building. The Spectator reports New York Police Department officers have been at the scene since about 12:45 a.m. but have not entered the building.

MORE: Virginia Tech protesters vow to stay, insist pro-Palestinian rally ‘peaceful’ after 82 arrests

IMAGE: Palestine SWG/Instagram

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About the Author
Micaiah Bilger is an assistant editor at The College Fix.