Socialist Alternative

NYPD Brutally Cracks Down On Gaza Solidarity Encampments

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On Tuesday night, members of the New York City branch of Socialist Alternative hit the streets as campus police and the NYPD appeared by the hundreds at the encampments on both the Columbia and City College of New York campuses to intimidate and terrorize student protestors who have been calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

It should be noted that yesterday marked 56 years to the day since Columbia sent in a thousand police officers to arrest upwards of 700 students, many of whom were injured in the process. In 1968, those protesters were fighting the US’ brutal imperialist war in Vietnam.

On Tuesday night, three hundred student protesters, faculty, and supporters were arrested in NYC alone. Many of them remain in custody, and as of this writing, police sweeps are also happening at Fordham University, the location of one of the many other encampments across the city. 

Though the encampments at both CCNY and Columbia have been set up consistently for almost two weeks, the crackdown from the schools’ administrations began only a couple of days ago, with Columbia threatening to suspend students if they remained in the encampment past 2pm. Columbia’s administration rapidly changed their tune to call for the expulsion of any student taking part in the occupation of Hamilton Hall, which students renamed “Hind’s Hall” in memory of a young Palestinian girl murdered in the midst of the genocidal onslaught in Gaza. This occupation represented a brave escalatory tactic as the administration began threatening encampment sweeps.

On Tuesday afternoon, those measures expanded further as campus police at NYCC built a barricade around campus buildings and began pepper spraying protesters, including one of our own members. Only a few hours later, hundreds of police showed up at both campuses to intimidate and threaten all of the protesters.

Footage from a member of Socialist Alternative at CCNY

A protest kicked off at around 7:00pm last night, with anti-war activists attempting to divert the police forces away from the encampment. This stand-off lasted late into the night, with students and protesters holding the ground and even sitting in the way of NYPD buses that were brought in to transport those arrested. A similar scene broke out at CCNY not long after, when students moved to occupy a building on campus and were promptly attacked by police with batons and pepper spray. Protesters worked at both campuses to hold police off until almost 11:00pm, when the mass arrests began.

Footage from Socialist Alternative member of protestors chanting “NYPD out of CUNY now!”

In light of all of these sweeps and in solidarity with their students, CUNY professors that are rank and file members of the Professional Staff Congress (PSC) union moved to organize a wildcat sick-out for yesterday in solidarity with the students at CCNY. This move is historic, as such actions are illegal in NYC per the Taylor Law. Even as PSC union leadership condemned these actions, over 200 professors participated.

According to a recent report from Al Jazeera, upwards of 70 encampments are currently happening across the United States alone. Even more are happening internationally, including in France, Italy, across the UK, Australia, and Tunisia. Students and faculty globally are calling for demands around a permanent ceasefire, divestment of college funds from institutions linked to the occupation, and an end to military aid to Israel. 

It’s clear that these protests have reached the Palestine masses. Yesterday Gazans held their own demonstration in the city of Deir el-Balah in Central Gaza to show their support for pro-Palestine protests at universities worldwide. Demonstrators of all ages held Palestinian flags and signs with the names of universities such as Columbia, UCLA, the University of Minnesota, and Yale. Photos have also surfaced from in Rafah depicting signs on tents with statements such as “Thank you, students in solidarity with Gaza. Your message has reached [us].”

The US ruling class, including university administration, would have students and workers think that there is nothing they can do in the face of this siege on Gaza. These past few weeks have proven quite the opposite, with a show of force from students and faculty unlike we have seen in decades. 

In the face of continued repression of students, Socialist Alternative calls for:

  • Divestment of funds from state and private institutions linked to the brutal occupation of Palestinian land!
  • The spread of struggle to EVERY campus and building of a mass anti-war movement of students and working people!
  • The building of a nationwide walkout and strike to shut down campuses across the country!
  • An end to all US military support to Israel!
  • No to Biden, no to Trump – it’s time to build a new anti-war party for working people!

We continue to stand for:

  • A permanent ceasefire now!
  • An end to the occupation and siege!
  • A socialist Palestine and a socialist Israel in a socialist federation of the Middle East!

Solidarity with students continuing to bring this fight to their campuses.

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