Jamaal Bowman Excuses Columbia Students Who Stormed Building: 'The Protesters Are Gonna Do What They Got To Do'

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April 30, 2024

New York congressman Jamaal Bowman (D.) shrugged off the anti-Israel rioters at Columbia University who stormed a campus building overnight, smashing windows and causing the campus to effectively shut down in the morning. Bowman said the "protesters are gonna do what they got to do." 

Rioters at the Ivy League university used a hammer to smash glass doors, used tables as barricades, and hoisted an "intifada" banner while storming Hamilton Hall in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Protesters chanted, "Settlers, settlers, go back home, Palestine is ours alone," and "Long live the intifada."

Bowman said on Tuesday he disagreed with criticism of the rioters. 

"The protesters are gonna do what they got to do. For me, it needs to just remain nonviolent, make sure no person is harmed in the process," he told CNN on Tuesday. He added that he’s "concerned about the heavy-handed repressive response from Columbia’s president, New York City’s mayor, and from states across the country."

This is not the first time Bowman has defended participants in the anti-Israel "Gaza Solidarity" tent encampment. After fellow "Squad" member Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D., Minn.) daughter was suspended from Columbia’s sister campus Barnard College for her participation in the encampment, Bowman rushed to her defense, claiming the suspension was a result of retaliation, not punishment.

"The day after [Omar] questioned Columbia leadership's commitment to free academic expression, the school suspended her daughter? It's clear what is happening here. Our educational institutions should not be in the business of political reprisals," Bowman wrote in a post.

Isra Hirsi, Omar’s daughter, participated in an unsanctioned "Gaza Solidarity" tent encampment erected on Columbia’s property, which organizers said would stay in place until the Ivy League school met their "demands" to "divest" from companies that do business with Israel. 

Bowman recently attended an April Arab American Heritage and Culture Month ceremony with Maher Abdel-qader, a fundraiser who has spread anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and founded a Facebook group where Hamas terrorists are praised. Bowman, Omar, Rep. Cori Bush (D., Mo.), and Rep. Summer Lee (D., Pa.) posed for photos with Abdel-qader at the event. 

In the wake of Hamas's Oct. 7 attack, the two-term congressman has been hostile toward the Jewish state, accusing Israel of "mass murder," "genocide," and "ethnic cleansing." 

Bowman last month teamed up with Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) to raise money for his primary campaign. At the New York fundraiser, which was not held in his district, Bowman and Tlaib led a "free Palestine" chant with donors. Tlaib refused to condemn Michigan protesters who chanted "death to Israel" and "death to America" in April. 

Bowman, who did not return a request for comment, faces an embattled primary against pro-Israel opponent Westchester County executive George Latimer. The New York congressman, who finds himself lagging 17 points behind in a primary poll, will face off against Latimer at the ballot box in June.