Pro-Palestinian protesters lend support to Columbia University students staging sit-in

ByAnthony Carlo WABC logo
Sunday, April 21, 2024
Pro-Palestinian protesters lend support to Columbia University students staging sit-in
Anthony Carlo has more on the protests from Morningside Heights.

MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS, Manhattan (WABC) -- They were separated by a gated fence, but united in the same cause. Protesters outside Columbia University returned Saturday to lend their support to the students on campus who continue a sit-in with their sleeping bags and books.

"This is nothing compared to what people in Palestine are dealing with. People in Gaza are starving. They have lost everything. Their homes and their apartments have been bombed. So we really feel like we have a moral obligation to continue doing what is right," said graduate student Layla Saliba.

Saliba says she noticed something in the group taking part in the Gaza solidarity encampment - ever since people were called in by the university on Thursday.

"The mass arrests and the suppression of students - I'd say that's galvanized us," Saliba said.

The majority of protesters were charged with trespassing for refusing to leave the space in violation of school rules. Suspensions were also handed out.

"Here they are showing leadership, and they're being censored and punished for it and it's wrong," said council member Tiffany Caban.

Across the street from the protest, a small group of Jewish Columbia students stood by an Israeli flag. They were not able to speak with Eyewitness News on Shabbat, but one man says twice he stopped people from tearing the flag down.

Standing in solidarity with pro-Palestine demonstrators was a Jewish woman condemning Israel's military response in Gaza - and Columbia's handling of the situation.

"They're on the wrong side of history, Columbia University," said Allyson Fairbanks.

Columbia University's President, Minouche Shafik has said its policies for demonstrators are to support both the right to expression and safety and functioning of the university - which the encampment violated.

The students say they will continue protesting until Columbia divests from companies that fund genocide in Gaza.

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