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Democrats Divided on Response to Columbia Raid, Anti-Israel Protests

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Democrats are seemingly divided on how to respond to the anti-Israel protests and encampments that have sprouted up throughout the nation, especially in the wake of the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) raid of Columbia University Tuesday night.

While some Democrat politicians, like Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA), have expressed thankfulness that Columbia University “chose to have the police come in and take charge,” others, like Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), slammed the police response over students “simply exercising their first amendment rights.”

“The protesters at Columbia demonstrated that there are two factions of the protesters — there’s the pro-Hamas, and then there’s the really pro-Hamas,” Fetterman told Semafor.

Columbia

Demonstrators break windows of a building on April 30, 2024, on Columbia University’s campus to barricade themselves. (Alex Kent/Getty Images)

Fetterman has been a staunch supporter of Israel in the aftermath of Hamas’s October 7, 2023, attack, which saw 1,200 people dead and more than 200 people taken as hostages.

Late Tuesday evening, NYPD officers in riot gear began a raid on Columbia University hours after pro-Palestinian protesters had seized control of an academic building, smashing glass doors, carrying barricades, and hanging pro-Palestinian banners from the windows.

The raid was sharply criticized by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) who stated that “if any kid” was hurt during the raid, the “responsibility will fall on the mayor” and Columbia University President Minouche Shafik.

“Other leaders and schools have found a safe, de-escalatory path,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote. “This is the opposite of leadership and endangers public safety. A nightmare in the making. I urge the Mayor to reverse course.”

Bowman also criticized the police response to the pro-Palestinian protesters at Columbia University, giving a speech in which he criticized the NYPD for exercising “brutality” on the protesters.

“And for what? Simply exercising their first amendment rights to peacefully assemble as they protest the collective punishment of civilians in Gaza,” Bowman stated.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) slammed the protesters for taking down the American flag from the flag pole and replacing it with the Palestinian flag.

“You don’t take over our buildings and put another flag up, that may be fine to other people but not to me. My uncle died defending this country,” Adams said.

In the past few weeks, anti-Israel protests and encampments have sprouted up across the nation in support of an initial encampment that was established at Columbia University on April 17.

NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - APRIL 30: New York Police Department officers enter the Columbia University building and detain pro-Palestinian demonstrators as they had barricaded themselves to iconic Hamilton Hall building in New York, United States on April 30, 2024. Over 100 people arrested according to reports. (Photo by Selcuk Acar/Anadolu via Getty Images)

NYPD officers enter the Columbia University building and detain pro-Palestinian demonstrators as they had barricaded themselves to iconic Hamilton Hall building in New York on April 30, 2024. (Selcuk Acar/Anadolu via Getty Images)

The day after the initial anti-Israel encampment was established on the campus, several students, including Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D) daughter Isra Hirsi, were suspended and hundreds of protesters were arrested.

Omar has supported the students participating in the encampment at Columbia University.

While the first encampment was removed, another one popped up in its place. Eventually, the university felt it was “left with no choice” other than to call the police.



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