New York Police in Riot Gear Descend on NYU, ‘Progressive’ New School, Meet Little Resistance From Anti-Israel Protesters

Students at the New School arrived for classes that the university had canceled on Friday morning.

Stephanie Keith/Getty Images
New York University students set up an encampment, April 26, 2024, at New York City. Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

Police descended on protestors at New York University and the New School on Friday morning, in the latest example of universities calling in police to crack down on protesters.

Police met little to no resistance at either NYU or at the New School, according to the department. Students who had been in the buildings at the New School tell the Sun that police arrived in riot gear at about 7 a.m. to disperse the protesters. Some left after being asked by police, while others asked to be arrested.

Unlike Columbia at Upper Manhattan, both NYU and the New School, which are downtown in Greenwich Village, don’t have distinct campuses and blend into the surrounding shops and apartment buildings. Protesters therefore had fewer options to create an encampment on school property.

While crowds were dispersed outside of NYU by about 8:30 a.m. students at the New School, whose motto is “A Place for Fearless Progress” and that advertises itself as “progressive,” were waiting on the sidewalks outside buildings. Most students were discussing classes that had been canceled by the university while others were recounting what had happened there the prior night and in the morning.

Some protestors lingered outside one of the New School’s buildings, shouting slogans and condemning police for arresting students. One counter-protester pushed into the lingering protesters as police watched.

One student who had attended protests at the New School the night before, Julien, said that the protests had remained peaceful during his time there, and that students were conscious of potential outside provocateurs.

“One of the biggest things is that we keep each other safe,” Julien tells the Sun. “It’s a separate issue from the binary of Israel and Palestine.”

Many students who were at the campus Friday morning were not willing to speak on the record, for fear of doxxing or retaliation from the administration.

After protestors were removed, police threw out tents and personal belongings that were left behind. In total, there were 13 arrests made at NYU and 43 made at the New School. By contrast, hundreds of students have been arrested at Columbia and at the City College of New York.

According to an NYU spokesman, John Beckman, the school asked police to intervene “to minimize the likelihood of injury.” Around 30 students left when asked by police. In April a different encampment was dismantled and 130 arrests were made. At NYU classes proceeded as scheduled on Friday.

In a letter released Friday morning, the New School’s president, Donna Shalala, President Clinton’s health and human services secretary, informed students that she asked police to clear the encampment, citing their alleged blocking of one of the dorms on campus.

“Yesterday, for the third time, we offered a meeting with representatives of the Investment Committee and the students said no — even though we provided a confirmed date this month for the Investment Committee to consider a vote on disinvestment,” Ms. Shalala wrote.

The student protesters, like at other universities, had been demanding their school’s endowment end investments that benefit Israel or profited off the defense industry.
Other universities, such as Northwestern and Brown, have offered discussions with the protestors and some concessions.

At Northwestern, the university agreed to disclose information about the school’s investments, announced funding for two Palestinian faculty members for two years and scholarships for Palestinian students, and an establishment of a community space for Muslim, Middle Eastern, and North African students.

Brown, on the other hand, agreed to let five students meet with their board of trustees this month to discuss divestment, and said that an advisory committee that counsels the university on divestment will make a recommendation in the fall.

In return, demonstrators at both universities agreed to keep their protests within the boundaries set by the institutions under threat of suspension.

Some of the schools where protests were the most intense, such as Columbia, have refused to divest. An endowment’s holdings are also often managed by third parties, which can add a layer of complication to divestment.

Some organizations have condemned the conciliatory approach taken by Brown and Northwestern, with the American Jewish Committee’s regional director at Chicago, Sarah van Loon, calling it “cowardly.”

The lack of clash between police and protesters at NYU and the New School stands in contrast to the recent conflagration between police and protesters at Columbia University. At Columbia, police ended up storming iconic Hamilton Hall to oust protesters barricaded in the building, which has been historically significant in past protests.

Mayor Adams has repeatedly claimed that a significant number of the protesters arrested at Columbia were “outside agitators.” City officials have claimed that 30 percent of those arrested by police at Columbia were “outside agitators,” though they have refused to release a list of those arrested. Mr. Adams has also repeatedly refused to clarify what he means by “outside agitators.”

Some of those Mr. Adams characterized as “outside agitators” have also come forward, like a retired elementary school teacher, Nahla Al-Arian, who has taken issue with Mr. Adams’s characterization in conversation with the Associated Press.

The New York Sun

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