Columbia University Threatens To Deploy National Guard On Students

The Gaza solidarity encampment was launched at Columbia University in New York City a week ago to demand the university divest from Israel.

Columbia University students who are part of the Gaza solidarity encampment have raised the alarm that during negotiations, the university administration threatened to call in the National Guard to evacuate the camp. The threat from Columbia’s administration comes on the seventh day of the encampment of hundreds of students who are demanding that the university divest all finances, from corporations that profit in any way shape or form from Israeli genocide and cut academic ties with Israeli institutions.

The Columbia encampment already withstood a violent eviction at the hands of the New York City Police Department on Thursday April 18, which on the orders of the university president Minoushe Shafik, had stormed the campus, confiscated student’s belongings, and arrested 122 students. However, immediately after, students erected another encampment which has withstood despite threats of further police intervention, suspension, eviction from dorms, and other disciplinary measures.

Instead of deterring students, the repression faced by the Columbia students ignited campuses across the country. Students from over a dozen campuses have sprung into action and organized Gaza solidarity encampments with similar demands. Campuses such as Yale and University of Minnesota were met with similar repression only to be followed by massive protests of faculty, students, and community members.

The deployment of the National Guard to the New York City university would mark a significant escalation of the repression against the student movement and poses a serious danger to the well being of the student organizers at the camp. Many progressive groups have recalled that the National Guard was deployed 54 years ago against an anti-war protest in Kent State and proceeded to shoot and kill student protesters.

In a statement released on Tuesday night, The People’s Forum wrote, “54 years after the National Guard was deployed at Kent State and carried out the heinous massacre of students protesting the war in Vietnam, Columbia University administration is now threatening to bring the National Guard on campus to crush the student protests that are opposing the genocide in Gaza.”

It added, “The efforts to intimidate, scare, and break the will of students demanding justice will not succeed. People all over the United States and indeed around the world salute the heroic stand taken by Columbia students and students at college campuses throughout the United States that are demanding liberation for the Palestinian people.”

The Party for Socialism and Liberation wrote in a statement, “In an outrageous act of intimidation against peaceful protest, Columbia University administration is threatening to call for the National Guard to crack down on the student movement against the genocide in Gaza. It is even more outrageous that this comes nearly 54 years to the day since the infamous Kent State massacre. The student movement is exploding across the country in a historic wave of protest in solidarity with the Palestinian people. No amount of repression can stop it — Palestine will be free!”

Student organizers and the rest of the Palestine solidarity movement have declared that no act of repression by the state will deter their commitment to fight for an end to Israel’s genocide in Gaza and for a free Palestine. The death toll in Gaza has reached over 34,000 Palestinians in Gaza, over 14,000 of them children.

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