Protesters unaffiliated with CCNY, Columbia made up nearly half of arrests: police

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Friday, May 3, 2024
Nearly half of people arrested at CCNY, Columbia not affiliated with schools
Janice Yu has the latest on the protests.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Of the hundreds arrested during protests at City College of New York and Columbia University, police say nearly half of them were found to have no affiliation with the schools.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Mayor Eric Adams and NYPD officials announced that about 300 people were arrested overnight in intense protests at both city schools.

Approximately 134 of the 282 people taken into custody at Columbia University and CCNY were not affiliated with either school -- more than 47%.

Janice Yu is live in Morningside Heights with details on the pro-Palestine protest.

At Columbia, 32 people arrested were not affiliated with the school, while about 80 people were. At CCNY, 102 people arrested were not affiliated, and 68 were.

The estimates are based on preliminary background analysis by NYPD. The city is forwarding the lists of arrested protesters to the universities to cross-check and determine the current status of those arrested.

"There were individuals on the campus that should not have been there," Adams said. "There were people who are professionals. We know the terminology 'outside agitator' was used during the Civil Rights movement, when people attempted to show that the movement was not legitimate, and we understand that."

For some, the term "outside agitator" brings back memories of the Civil Rights movement. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. famously wrote about being called an outside agitator in the now-historic letter from the Birmingham jail in April 1963.

Fast forward 60 years, and outside protesters are now being accused of influencing the protests at Columbia University. How the protest escalated from the tent encampment on Columbia's west lawn to the Hamilton Hall takeover is now under scrutiny by NYPD officials.

Investigators are looking at the role of outsiders who were on campus in the days before encampment participants shifted to Hamilton Hall, and whether those people gave the student protesters the idea to take over Hamilton Hall and the tactical knowledge to do it.

The NYPD directed attention to 68-year-old Sami Al-Arian, an accused terrorist deported to Turkey in 2015, who posted a picture of his wife in the tent encampment at Columbia.

"We saw evidence of training, we saw a shift in tactics that were being used," Adams said.

Another activist, 63-year-old Lisa Fithian, is one of the people that police say has been escalating student protests. For decades she has been pictured in protests all over the country.

Arraignments have already started in the most serious charges of the 282 arrests.

Columbia officials are still restricting access to campus, even as students begin to move out of their housing. The NYPD is set to remain on school grounds until graduation.

The NYPD also says ne of its officers accidently fired his gun in Hamilton Hall. Police say the bullet did not hit anyone, but officials insist there will be an investigation.

Other schools impacted by protests


Rutgers University has postponed final exams and other activities on Thursday due to ongoing protests on the New Brunswick campus. Students were supposed to start final exams Thursday and finish them on May 8.

School officials there said they acted "out of an abundance of caution" for the safety of students as they anticipated an escalation of protests.

Crystal Cranmore has more from Rutgers University.


A pro-Palestinian encampment at NYU is holding firm Thursday, despite being prohibited by the school. Organizers say they want divestment from Israel and they want the Tel Aviv campus to be shut down.

Lindsay Tuchman is live in Greenwich Village with the story on the ongoing pro-Palestine protest at NYU.

A protest Wednesday that started at Foley Square made its way to the encampment, and in a statement, NYU says it involved vandalism and was disruptive to the neighborhood. They are urging protesters to "pick up their belongings and leave."

The school president sent a message to the community on Wednesday night saying that more than 51% of people arrested during the April 22 protest in Gould Plaza were not affiliated with the school.

Just 65 of the 133 arrested that night are described as "current NYU students, faculty or staff."

"I never thought that as president I would need to rely on the NYPD to secure the safety of our community," NYU President Linda Mills wrote in the letter, noting "universities are typically able to solve community disputes on our own," through discussion and mutual respect.

Stony Brook

And on Long Island, there were 29 arrests overnight at Stony Brook University where protesters defied an order to clear away from the steps of the Staller Center by 11 p.m.


And at Yale, about 100 people -- a mix of students and locals -- demonstrated outside the president's house in New Haven on Wednesday night. The pro-Palestinian group gathered in the driveway and across the street and chanted and shouted through bullhorns.

Four people were arrested on charges of trespassing and disorderly conduct. It is not yet clear if any of those four are students.


And across the country on UCLA's campus, protesters clashed with police in a dramatic scene that has continued into Thursday morning. At one point, officers were forced to retreat while trying to disperse the encampment. So far there have been more than 100 arrests.


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