Jamaal Bowman Says He Saw Columbia Students ‘Protesting Peacefully.’ Here’s What Others Saw.

New York Democrat makes no mention of the repeated acts of violence at the anti-Israel encampment

During the first debate for New York’s 16th Congressional District on Monday, Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D., N.Y.) cited his visit to Columbia University in arguing that the anti-Israel protesters who formed the "Gaza Solidarity" encampment there were "protesting peacefully."

As the Washington Free Beacon reported, however, Columbia’s encampment became violent in April after protesters stormed Hamilton Hall, held a sign calling for the death of Jews, assaulted a journalist, dragged and destroyed an American flag, and attempted to burn the Israeli flag. Bowman made no mention of the violence, instead referencing the makeshift "mental health" services and "library" the unsanctioned protesters created.

"I visited Columbia University. I went to the encampment. I met with students there so I could learn more about their perspective, their position on what’s happening there," Bowman said. "I saw a library, I saw mental health support. I saw students protesting peacefully."

Bowman, who is in the midst of an uphill battle to fend off his pro-Israel primary challenger, Westchester County executive George Latimer, has repeatedly come to the defense of the Columbia protesters.

An Arab-Israeli journalist, Yoseph Haddad, who was slated to speak at Columbia, was accosted by a group of protesters who punched him in the face and repeatedly told the journalist to "take a gun to your head," "kill yourself," and "shoot yourself."

One constituent in the audience at the debate asked the candidates if they believe the phrase "from the river to the sea" is "hate speech and/or advocating for the eradication of Israel."

Bowman responded, "I do not."

The two-term congressman in April excused the violent protesters who stormed Hamilton Hall the same day they broke into the building, smashed doors, hung a banner that called for "intifada," and effectively shut down campus.

"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. 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."

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.

Bowman did not return a request for comment.