Columbia Students Storm University Building and Hoist Banner Calling for 'Intifada'

President Shafik shuts down campus 'effective immediately,' with only those who live in campus buildings allowed to enter

Student protesters hoist "Intifada" banner from Hamilton Hall.
April 30, 2024

MANHATTAN—Student protesters at Columbia University stormed a campus building overnight, using a hammer to smash glass doors and tables and chairs to barricade the entrance. Once in control of the building, the protesters hoisted an "intifada" banner.

The takeover of Hamilton Hall came around 1 a.m. Student protesters marched through campus chanting "free Palestine" before moving to the hall. Masked individuals were filmed using hammers and other tools to open and then barricade a door to the hall. They also used tables, chairs, and a human chain to block entry to the building.

Once inside, students hung flags and banners from the building, including one that called for "intifada," a photo taken by the Washington Free Beacon shows. They chanted, "Settlers, settlers, go back home, Palestine is ours alone" and "Long live the intifada."

They also pushed, grabbed, and accosted some who attempted to impede the takeover or film the chaos, including a Free Beacon reporter. Police officers were not on the scene, though several students called for law enforcement. They did not enter campus because Columbia president Minouche Shafik "did not want the NYPD to enter and make arrests or charge any individuals," according to NBC News. Students occupying the building "face expulsion," according to a Tuesday afternoon statement from Columbia spokesman Ben Chang.

"We will not move until Columbia meets every one of our demands," the students said.

Faculty members who flocked to the encampment Monday to support student protesters also remained overnight and were seen near Hamilton Hall. By 4 a.m., the original "Gaza Solidarity" encampment that has plagued the school for nearly a week was mostly deserted, with students moving tents to a different area.

In an early morning statement, Columbia officials acknowledged that a "group of protestors occupied Hamilton Hall on the Morningside campus." Shortly thereafter, Shafik effectively shut down campus, with only those who live in residential buildings and "employees who provide essential services" allowed to enter.

Columbia University Apartheid Divest, a coalition of student groups behind the encampment protests, posted a statement to Instagram saying an "autonomous group of students has taken matters into their own hands."

"They will remain in Hamilton until the university divests from death. The students are on the right side of history. We know that the university will remember them as anti-apartheid, anti-genocide activists with moral clarity."


The student coalition went on to issue "an urgent call for mobilization," calling on students to "join our picket happening outside the building" and "defend the original camp." A subsequent post said Hamilton Hall "has now been liberated."

The chaos came after Shafik began suspending students who ignored her 2 p.m. Monday deadline to "voluntarily disperse" from the encampment. Shafik set the deadline after announcing that days of negotiations between university officials and student protesters brought no results.

The students voted unanimously to remain in the encampment and wrote messages on letters the university delivered to them. "COLUMBIA WILL BURN," one read. "I AINT READING ALL THAT FREE PALESTINE" read another. They also pledged to "escalate" their tactics.

It's unclear if the occupation of Hamilton Hall will push Shafik to bring police to campus. After Shafik's 2 p.m. deadline passed on Monday, Columbia's head of communications, Ben Chang, reiterated a Friday statement from Shafik that said bringing police to campus "at this time would be counterproductive."

Update 1:45 p.m.: This piece has been updated with additional information.