NYPD blames 'outside agitators' for protests at Columbia University, City College

Darla Miles Image
Wednesday, May 1, 2024
NYPD blames 'outside agitators' for protests at Columbia University
Darla Miles has details on what the NYPD has described as 'outside agitators' impacting the ongoing pro-Palestine protests.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- A major turning point in the standoff at Columbia University came Tuesday night when police swept in and removed protesters from Columbia and City College, and while many were students and professors, the NYPD believes some were "outside agitators" with their own agenda.

"We know the terminology 'outside agitator' were used during the civil rights movement, when people attempted to show that the movement was not legitimate, and we understand that," Mayor Adams said.

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, outside agitators are now being accused of influencing the protests at Columbia University.

"There were individuals on the campus that should not have been there," Adams said. "There were people who are professionals."

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," Mayor Adams said.

Video released by the NYPD shows a chalkboard from a classroom inside Hamilton Hall.

To the left, it shows a grid labeled "security," and appears to be a schedule of two-hour shifts. Written in the center of the chalkboard, "No. 1 -- attack when your enemy is weak, and when you are strong. No. 2 -- political power comes from the barrel of a gun." To the right of the chalkboard was a game plan for the worst and best case scenarios.

"This is not what we saw years ago. This is completely different," said former NYPD Commissioner Robert Boyce.

The NYPD has not released specific detail on their intel, but one national organization with a presence on Columbia's campus, the Party for Socialism and Liberation, pushed back.

"This is a very common smear against protesters, against peoples' movements for injustice and it's not true, there's no truth to it at all," said Walter Smolarek of the Party for Socialism.


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