Peter Myers Digest: Zionist bullies assault UCLA camp

(1) Zionist bullies assault UCLA camp, as happens to Palestinians every day
(2) Ear-piercing screams from speakers. Lasers flashing into the camp.
People in masks waving strobe lights.
(3) UCLA Complicit in the Violence Against Its Own Students – Daily
Bruin (student paper)
(4) LA Times: UCLA sought extra police but then canceled requests in
days before mob attacked camp
(5) President Shafik, this is your legacy – Columbia Spectator (Uni
student paper)

(1) Zionist bullies assault UCLA camp, as happens to Palestinians every day

The corporate media passed it off as a clash between two groups of
demonstrators; in fact it was an assault by Zionists on peaceful
protestors. This event will change the consciousness of Gen Z.

Watch the video, in which Amy Goodman of Democracy Now interviews 2
students and one Professor from UCLA:

And download it.

The transcript is below.

it’s shocking that this could happen in the USA. University admin let it
happen. Biden could only talk of Antisemitism.

Thank God there are some good Jews too, like Amy Goodman. – Peter M.

“People Could Have Died”: Police Raid UCLA Gaza Protest, Waited as
Pro-Israel Mob Attacked Encampment

STORY MAY 02, 2024


<>  Gaye
Theresa Johnson
associate professor of African American and Chicana/o studies at the
University of California, Los Angeles and a member of UCLA’s chapter of
Faculty for Justice in Palestine.
Shaanth Kodialam Nanguneri
senior staff writer for the Daily Bruin, UCLA’s student newspaper.
<>  Mel Buer
staff reporter for The Real News Network.


<> Faculty for Justice in Palestine
<> Shaanth Kodialam
Nanguneri articles
<>  Mel Buer articles

We get an update from the University of California, Los Angeles, where
police in riot gear began dismantling a pro-Palestinian encampment early
Thursday, using flashbang grenades, rubber bullets and tear gas, and
arresting dozens of students. The raid came just over a day after
pro-Israel counterprotesters armed with sticks, metal rods and fireworks
attacked students at the encampment. The Real News Network reporter Mel
Buer was on the scene during the attack. She describes seeing
counterprotesters provoke students, yelling slurs and bludgeoning them
with parts of the encampment’s barricade, and says the attack lasted
several hours without police or security intervention. ”UCLA is
complicit in violence inflicted upon protesters,” wrote the editorial
board of UCLA’s campus newspaper, the Daily Bruin, the next day. Four of
the paper’s student journalists were targeted and assaulted by
counterprotesters while covering the protests. We speak with Shaanth
Kodialam Nanguneri, one of the student journalists, who says one of
their colleagues was hospitalized over the assault, while campus
security officers “were nowhere to be found.” Meanwhile, UCLA’s chapter
of Faculty for Justice in Palestine has called on faculty to refuse
university labor Thursday in protest of the administration’s failure to
protect students from what it termed “Zionist mobs.” Professor Gaye
Theresa Johnson, a member of UCLA Faculty for Justice in Palestine,
denounces the administration’s response to nonviolent protest and says
she sees the events as part of a major sea change in the politicization
of American youth. “This is a movement. It cannot be unseen. It cannot
be put back in the box.”


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: As we broadcast this morning, Los Angeles police in riot
gear are dismantling a pro-Palestinian encampment on UCLA’s campus,
after hundreds of police used flashbang grenades, rubber bullets and
tear gas in a faceoff with protesters who chanted, “We are not leaving.
You don’t scare us.”

PROTESTERS: You don’t scare us! We’re not leaving!

NERMEEN SHAIKH: The police raid at UCLA came a day after pro-Israel
counterprotesters attacked the encampment with fireworks, metal rods and
tear gas for hours late Tuesday night and into early Wednesday morning.
At least 15 people were injured.

This is how UCLA’s student newspaper, the Daily Bruin, described the
violence instigated by counterprotesters in an
editorial: quote, “It began with ear-piercing screams of wailing babies
loudly emitting from speakers. Counter-protesters tearing down the
barricades. Laser pointers flashing into the encampment. People in masks
waving strobe lights. Tear gas. Pepper spray. Violent beatings.
Fireworks sparked at the border of the encampment, raining down on tents
and the individuals inside,” the Daily Bruin wrote.

The editorial noted Los Angeles police did not arrive until slightly
after 1 a.m. Meanwhile, around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, four UCLA
student journalists were attacked by the pro-Israel counterprotesters on
campus. One of the journalists was treated for injuries at the hospital
and has since been released. There were no arrests after Tuesday night’s
attack. Wednesday’s classes were canceled.

The Daily Bruin’s editorial ended with a question: quote, “Will someone
have to die on our campus tonight for you to intervene, Gene Block? The
blood would be on your hands.”

AMY GOODMAN: University of California President Michael Drake and the
UCLA Chancellor Gene Block have launched an investigation into what
California Governor Gavin Newsom condemned as the, quote, “limited and
delayed campus law enforcement response,” unquote. Meanwhile, the campus
police union issued a statement that, quote, “the decisions regarding
the response of the UC Police rest firmly in the hands of campus

For more, we’re joined by three guests. Shaanth Kodialam Nanguneri is a
senior staff writer for the Daily Bruin, UCLA’s student newspaper. They
are one of the four reporters who were attacked. Mel Buer is a staff
reporter for The Real News Network. She was at the Gaza solidarity
encampment Tuesday night when counterprotesters violently attacked it
for several hours. And Gaye Theresa Johnson is an associate professor of
African American studies and Chicana/Chicano studies at the University
of California, Los Angeles, UCLA. She writes and teaches on race and
racism, cultural history, spatial politics and political economy, a
member of UCLA’s chapter of Faculty for Justice in Palestine, which has
called on UCLA faculty to refuse university labor today, the day after
May Day, quote, “in protest of the university administration’s egregious
failure to protect the student protest encampment from attacks by
self-professed and proudly Zionist mobs coming to campus every night to
enact violence,” unquote.

Welcome to all of you. We want to begin with Dr. Gaye Theresa Johnson.
Before we get into the horrifying details of the attack on the Gaza
encampment, if you can explain why you are withholding work today and
the overall context of how UCLA is dealing with this protest encampment,
and why the issue, so often not talked about in the corporate media, of
why the Gaza encampment exists?

GAYE THERESA JOHNSON: Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me on.

We are so inspired by our students today. We are refusing our labor to
the University of California, Los Angeles because we know that the
conditions under which they were arrested, the conditions upon — the
conditions that they were subjected to night before last with the
counterprotesters, the violence that they have endured night after night
after night, the complaints that they have lodged and that have been
ignored by the university administration, all of the ways in which they
were failed by the university administration, those are also our work
conditions. And until our students are supported, we will also be
stopping work.

The necessity for the camp was, I mean, what is going on in Gaza, what
is happening here in the United States is linked. And these students,
who have done so much study and who have done so much organizing, are
clear about the connections between U.S. racism and international
imperialism, and they are so clear about their role and purpose in this
movement. So many of them have now been politicized, and this will not
stop just because of tonight.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: So, Shaanth, if you could explain? You were one of four
journalists who was attacked. Tell us what happened.

SHAANTH KODIALAM NANGUNERI: Walking back from that protest where a group
of pro-Israel counterprotesters had stormed and seized upon the
encampment on campus at Dickson Plaza and near Powell Library, and me
and three other journalists —

AMY GOODMAN: Shaanth, if you could speak as loud as you possibly can?
We’re hearing — and come closer, yes, to your computer. And also, you’re
describing what happened. Tell us what night, about what time it was,
you with your four Daily Bruin — the three other Daily Bruin reporters.

SHAANTH KODIALAM NANGUNERI: Yeah, it was about, I want to say, 2 or 3
a.m. It was really late. We had all spent hours being out there on the
field reporting, sending messages to our editors, really scared about
the scenes that we were seeing on campus towards the protesters in the
encampment, the level of violence and vitriol that was in the air. We
had documented reporters hearing things like racial epithets. I
personally witnessed a counterprotester slam a wooden slab onto an
individual who had her hands on the barricade of the encampment and
smashing her fingers, and listening to her scream and watching how that
changed the environment. And many more harrowing scenes have been
discussed by students on this campus, but —

AMY GOODMAN: And who were these people?

SHAANTH KODIALAM NANGUNERI: Yeah, we have been trying our best to be
accurate about that. And I think in a Los Angeles Times article, my
colleague talks about being attacked by one of these pro-Israel
counterprotesters and how they have known who we are on campus. And they
know that we report on these issues, and sometimes they know our faces.

And when we were leaving and were vulnerable and were in a small group,
we were encircled and attacked. And they started shining lights in our
face, spraying us with very strong irritants, circling in particular one
of my colleagues and physically harassing and assaulting her. And by the
time I had finally managed to help get three of us out of there, we
found one of us had turned back. And by the time we had looked back
around, they were on the ground being violently assaulted. And we were
trying our best, as we ran back screaming their name, to pull them out
of that fight, pull them out of the ground, pull people off of them. And
we were begging while they were flashing [inaudible] —

AMY GOODMAN: And this was Catherine Hamilton, who was hospitalized?


AMY GOODMAN: How were they beating her?

SHAANTH KODIALAM NANGUNERI: You know, it was a very, very quick scene. I
know she got hurt in the stomach. And I know that initially we had been
— we had had so much tear gas in our eyes already from the protest that
by the end of it, it was just hard to walk back. It was hard to make it

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Shaanth, could you explain? I know that you said
people are being careful about trying to talk about who the
counterprotesters are, but could you tell us what you know? Were most of
them not students? Were they students? If you could explain what you know?

SHAANTH KODIALAM NANGUNERI: Yeah, I mean, we do see students on, you
know, rallies supporting pro-Israel groups. We have a pro-Israel group
for Jewish faculty. And they themselves have actually distanced
themselves from this behavior. But we do see a lot of non-UCLA students
coming onto campus and sparking a lot of these controversies that end up
going viral online and on social media and that do require deep,
thorough reporting that goes beyond the kind of outrage bait that
unfortunately fuels a lot of the conversations.

AMY GOODMAN: Where were the police? Where was security as this attack
went on?

SHAANTH KODIALAM NANGUNERI: They were nowhere to be found. We actually
walked up to a few campus security afterwards asking for help, as one of
my peers was crying and having a breakdown, and I was trying help the
other two, as well. And they were not able to help us with anything.
They didn’t know what to do. And, in fact, we had documented that campus
security, when faced with threats — these are private security guards
handled by the campus, before the actual police had even come on campus
— they would run away when they — or hide in buildings, and deny
reporters access to those buildings, when they were afraid of what they
saw on the scene and on the site when they got too violent.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Mel, you were there reporting on what happened.
Could you describe where you were and what you witnessed?

MEL BUER: Yeah. So, myself and another reporter showed up around 10 p.m.
We found ourselves on a side barricade next to Royce Hall. And we had a
pretty good vantage point of the two sets of barricades that were
separated by a sidewalk, prior to the confrontation happening.

Around 10:30 or 10:45, there was some sort of altercation, some sort of
argument between the private security and the pro-Israel
counterprotesters. And they very quickly dismantled the barricades and
began ripping flags down from the Gaza encampment, pulling barricades
apart, trying to rip apart the wooden barricades behind the metal ones
that were installed there. And that continued for about three, four
hours. It was a chaos, very scary, very quickly.

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, it’s fascinating that the corporate media is
describing this as just clashes between two different groups, the
pro-Palestine groups and the pro-Israel groups. Mel, from your
perspective — you’re a reporter with The Real News Network — what we’re
hearing here is an assault by one group on the encampment.

MEL BUER: Right. You know, I’ve been to the UCLA encampment on the first
day, when they were setting up. And from the jump, there have been
individuals who have tried to agitate these demonstrators, these
students. They’ve tried to get a rise out of them. They’ve tried to
provoke some sort of violent reaction. And, you know, to their serious
credit, these disciplined students have spent a lot of time and energy
and effort not responding to that, or trying to deescalate situations,
trying to keep each other safe, trying to keep the integrity of the
encampment safe, because the point is not to get into an argument with
counterprotesters, right? The point is to continue to pressure UCLA to
divest from the various relationships that they have with Israel and to
boycott these programs that are funding an occupation and a genocide.

So, to see what happened the other night was, essentially, these
counterprotesters, many of them riled up and angry and throwing slurs
over the fences, getting a chance to try and rip their way into the
encampment. And this had been — tensions had been growing for multiple
days, right? This was not the first instance of violence where
pro-Israel counterprotesters were knocking over students, were trying to
provoke fights. Some fights broke out even two nights before. So, from
my assessment, as I was there, these groups, this giant group, probably
150, 200 or so counterprotesters — some of the were university age, some
of them were much older and did not appear to be UCLA students —
launching assaults on this barricade. And, you know, this was consistent
for many hours. The bear mace was in the air. I mean, you know, I
witnessed a lot of folks getting bludgeoned by parts of the barricades,
by wooden sticks, batons, whatever they could bring. And that was a
constant for the four-and-a-half, five hours that I was there.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: So, Professor Gaye Theresa Johnson, if you could
describe what you know is happening right now on campus at UCLA, and
what the response of the administration has been to the encampment since
it went up?

GAYE THERESA JOHNSON: This is something that so many of us feel
disgusted by. We are — many of the faculty who I spoke to, as late as
just about 45 minutes ago, were feeling shocked. They were feeling so
disillusioned by the response of the university. This is a university
administration that has for weeks, for months equivocated the experience
of people who are proclaimed Zionists to those Muslim students who have
been doxxed and harassed every day, and faculty, as well.

And so, this is a situation in which students have been subjected by the
university to a complete negation of their experience, not only here at
UCLA, but across the world, the idea that there are, as Amy said
earlier, clashes between protesters or that there are fights that are
breaking out between these two people. We’re talking about a nonviolent
protest. We’re talking about students who have been organizing for
months, who are trained, have taken it upon themselves to educate
themselves on tactics of nonviolence, and the incredible and brave way
in which they defended themselves all of these nights. But, of course,
in the culminating violence of night before last, and then, of course,
of the violence of this night, as well, as they’ve been gassed,
flashbangs that have been set off by the LAPD, and it’s just been
incredible, the way that they have responded in the face of the
gaslighting that the university has done against them. They are just —
they have just done such an incredible and brave job.

And many of us, while we are shocked, we are also understanding, as
faculty, that thousands and thousands of students across the nation,
across the world have been politicized today, and there is no way, just
because the LAPD and UCLA have mandated the dispersal of these students,
that this is the end. It is only the beginning, because there are so
many people now who understand that this is a movement. And it cannot be
unseen. It cannot be put back in the box.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And finally, if you could explain: Where do negotiations
stand? Has the administration been speaking with students about their
demands that UCLA divest from Israel?

GAYE THERESA JOHNSON: The other day, the university offered the students
three options. One was negotiations, which we saw yesterday there was no
negotiation. There was an offer of absolutely nothing. Students had
demands that were completely ignored, that wasn’t even in the discussion
once administrators came to the camp. They were offered absolutely nothing.

The second option was to continue in a sort of long-term action with
encampment. But it wasn’t a real, legitimate choice that the university
was giving these students, because they were going to make them adhere
to policies that they call time, place and manner that would have
evicted them from the encampment and forced them into other places that
would have been completely ineffective as far as protest and visibility.

And the third action that administrators — third choice that they gave
students was police action. And they said, you know, “If you don’t take
the first two,” — which were, in effect, completely false — “then we
will assume that you want the police action.”

And in the end, they didn’t care. They didn’t ask what students wanted
yesterday. They just simply went into what was already scheduled, what
was already planned, which, one, I will say, many of us think that it’s
almost as if, like, we’ve seen this many times over history — in
Katrina, for example, in New Orleans, where politicians said, “Let the
hurricane do for New Orleans what we couldn’t do.” This was the same
thing that was echoing for us as we watched these counterprotesters so
violently attack our students, is the “We’ll just sit back and let that
happen instead.”

And the irony of these counterprotesters attacking these vulnerable
students, who are also incredibly strong and brave and organized, in an
enclosed space, the analogy that we can make to what’s happening in Gaza
is obviously lost on all of these counterprotesters. They have no regard
for the lives, just as the UCLA administration. People could have died
the night before last and this night, as well. And these are the
conditions under which students are trying to enact free speech.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Gaye Theresa Johnson, I want to thank you for being
with us, UCLA professor of African American studies and Chicana/Chicano
studies. We also want to thank Mel Buer of The Real News Network and
Shaanth Kodialam Nanguneri. Shaanth is one of four reporters, a senior
reporter, with the Daily Bruin, the UCLA paper, who was attacked by the

Coming up, we’ll speak to the former president of Brandeis University,
founded by the American Jewish community in the wake of the Holocaust.
What he says about today’s student protests may surprise you. Back in 20

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(2) Ear-piercing screams from speakers. Lasers flashing into the camp.
People in masks waving strobe lights.

The World Is Watching: UCLA Complicit in the Violence Against Its Own

Will someone have to die on our campus tonight for you to intervene,
Gene Block?

May 01, 2024
Common Dreams

Note: The following from The Daily Bruin editorial board was
published in the early hours of May 1, 2024 amidst a violent attack by a
right-wing mob on a student encampment on the UCLA campus calling for a
ceasefire in <> Gaza and university
divestment from companies profiting from Israeli apartheid.

It began with ear-piercing screams of wailing babies loudly emitting
from speakers.

Counter-protesters tearing down the barricades. Laser pointers flashing
into the encampment. People in masks waving strobe lights.

Tear gas. Pepper spray. Violent beatings.

Fireworks sparked at the border of the encampment, raining down on tents
and the individuals inside.

At around 5 p.m. yesterday, Chancellor Gene Block sent an email to the
UCLA student body claiming that security presence in the area had been
increased. That was not visible in the midst of escalating violence. And
even with the security present, there was no mediation far into the
night. …

(3) UCLA Complicit in the Violence Against Its Own Students – Daily
Bruin (student paper)

Editorial: UCLA is complicit in violence inflicted upon protesters,
failed to protect students

By <> Editorial Board

May 1, 2024 3:06 a.m.

It began with ear-piercing screams of wailing babies loudly emitting
from speakers.

Counter-protesters tearing down the barricades. Laser pointers flashing
into the encampment. People in masks waving strobe lights.

Tear gas. Pepper spray. Violent beatings.

Fireworks sparked at the border of the encampment, raining down on tents
and the individuals inside.

At around 5 p.m. yesterday, Chancellor Gene Block sent an email to the
UCLA student body claiming that security presence in the area had been
increased. That was not visible in the midst of escalating violence. And
even with the security present, there was no mediation far into the night.

UC President Michael Drake expressed support for Block’s decision to
declare the encampment “unlawful” Tuesday evening, adding that action
was needed when the safety of students was being threatened. And yet, in
spite of official statements from the university and the UC, we witness
little being done on the university’s part to ensure the protection of
students who exercise their rights.

Mary Osako, vice chancellor of UCLA Strategic Communications, released a
statement at 12:40 a.m. acknowledging the violence, adding that the fire
department and medical personnel were involved.

“We are sickened by this senseless violence and it must end,” Osako said.

This came after a source in the encampment told the Daily Bruin that at
five protestors have been injured.

But for hours, UCLA administration stood by and watched as the violence
escalated. LAPD did not arrive on the scene until slightly after 1 a.m.
– once Los Angeles mayor Karen Bass sent them in for assistance at
Block’s request.

Daily Bruin reporters on the scene were slapped and indirectly sprayed
with irritants. Despite also being students, they were offered no

The world is watching. As helicopters fly over Royce Hall, we have a

Will someone have to die on our campus tonight for you to intervene,
Gene Block?

The blood would be on your hands.

(4) LA Times: UCLA sought extra police but then canceled requests in
days before mob attacked camp

UCLA sought extra police but then canceled requests in days before mob
attacked camp

Campus police officers confer on Wednesday while posting yards from a
pro-Palestinian camp at UCLA.

By Noah Goldberg

May 2, 2024 Updated 4:14 PM PT

Five days before pro-Israeli
counterprotesters attacked a pro-Palestinian camp at UCLA, the
university police department asked other campuses for additional police,
according to the head of the UC police officers union.

But the requests — which would have provided UCLA with more police
officers as they dealt with the camp and
a dueling area erected by pro-Israeli activists — were both quickly
canceled, according to internal communications reviewed by The Times.

UCLA officials did not respond to a request for comment about the

The requests for additional police resources add to the questions about
why UCLA was so underprepared when dozens of people swarmed the camp
Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, attacking protesters who were
occupying the space on the campus.

Law enforcement sources said there were only a handful of UCLA officers
on duty at the time, and they were quickly overwhelmed. It would take
hours for officers from the Los Angeles Police Department, the
California Highway Patrol and other agencies to arrive and stop the


UCLA struggles to recover after 200 arrested, pro-Palestinian camp torn down

May 2, 2024

UCLA’s handling of the upheaval is now the subject of an external review
by the University of California and has been roundly criticized.

Wade Stern, an officer at UC Riverside and the president of the
Federated University Police Officers’ Assn., told The Times that the
mutual aid call would have allowed for members of UCPD’s Systemwide
Response Team — a group of about 80 officers across the portfolio of
schools known as the SRT — to deploy to UCLA. The request would have
placed the extra officers on campus from Sunday to Tuesday, Stern said.

“We’ve all been trying to get up there and go help,” he said.


Photos: Clashes at pro-Palestinian demonstrations on California campuses

May 2, 2024

The two requests for mutual aid were made Thursday and Friday, but both
were canceled within a few hours, according to documents reviewed by The
Times. UCLA requested and received aid on Sunday to
deal with counterprotesters at the camp.

The request for mutual aid was not sent out again, despite the fact that
SRT members were standing by, ready to head to UCLA, Stern said.

It’s not clear how many more officers UCLA would have received or
whether the additions would have been enough to prevent Tuesday’s violence.

But the university is already facing scrutiny over the way it handled
the incident.


‘Unacceptable’: Why it took hours for police to quell attack at UCLA
pro-Palestinian camp

May 1, 2024

“The limited and delayed campus law enforcement response at UCLA last
night was unacceptable — and it demands answers,” a spokesperson for
California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement Wednesday.

When camps started popping up on college campuses,
UC took a lighter touch in handling protests than USC, Columbia and
other campuses that have called in police, who have arrested hundreds of
people, many of them students.

But on Tuesday, hours before the camp was attacked, UCLA declared the
gathering “unlawful.” On Thursday morning, hundreds of CHP officers
moved in and
disassembled the camp, arresting more than 200 people.

The SRT is little-known, but is a key tool for the 10 small police
departments at the UC schools. UCLA Police Chief John Thomas called his
force “underemployed” in a February
interview with the Daily Bruin. He has 65 officers, whereas when he was
the chief at USC across the city, he had 300. Thomas said that UCLA
needed about 15 more officers than it had on staff.

A request for mutual aid through the SRT has to be made by the host
university’s chief of police, according to the UC police procedures manual.


Gazans thank U.S. campus protesters. Israel condemns what it sees as
‘Nazi-like behavior’

May 2, 2024

Thomas did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Stern’s union put out a statement Wednesday noting that the police
departments across the UC system take their orders from the chancellors
of the schools.

“When protests erupt on campus, the decisions regarding the response of
the UC Police rest firmly in the hands of campus leadership,” the union
said in a statement.

The union noted the difference between “operational execution,” which
was under the departments, compared to “strategic direction,” which was
controlled by the school administrators, according to the statement.

On Thursday, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said in a statement the
university’s approach to the encampment was guided by the need to
support the safety and well-being, as well as the free expression, of
its students coupled with the need to minimize teaching and learning

“When physical violence broke out [Tuesday] night, leadership
immediately directed our UCPD police chief to call for the support of
outside law enforcement, medical teams and the fire department to help
us quell the violence,” Block said.

(5) President Shafik, this is your legacy – Columbia Spectator (Uni
student paper)



President Shafik, this is your legacy


This staff editorial reflects the majority view of the editorial board
at the Columbia Daily Spectator. The
editorial board of the Columbia Daily Spectator operates independently
of the newsroom and corporate board, including the editor in chief and
managing editor; staff editorials are independent of Spectator’s news
coverage and coverage by other Opinion columnists and writers.

President Shafik, one week ago, you
authorized the New York Police Department to clear Columbia’s South Lawn
of student protesters. We watched police officers zip-tie and arrest 108
of our friends, classmates, and coworkers. In response, students have
mobilized in the hundreds at Columbia and campuses across the country,
defending their right to peaceful protest for divestment from Israel.
Now, police battalions surround campus, students enter and exit through
security checkpoints, NYPD correctional buses circle the block,
helicopters drone overhead, reporters probe students for front-page
quotes, and communication from the administration has all but
disappeared—with the exception, of course, of ominous late-night emails.

Columbia has become a national spectacle. Instead of defending your
students’ right to free expression or engaging publicly with activist
organizations, you and other administrators are scrambling to save
face—granting campus access to select media outlets,
<> the founder
of a hate group that is as
<> rabidly
Islamophobic as it is antisemitic, and the occasional opportunistic
politician—while abandoning the rest of campus. As tensions escalate
here and elsewhere—Yale University, Harvard University, New York
University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of
Michigan, and Brown University, to name a few—we question whether you
understand the impact of what you have done. President Shafik, this is
your legacy: a president more focused on the brand of your University
than the safety of your students and their demands for justice.

In our April 18 staff
editorial, we asked, “What is the role of the University if not to
advocate for—and protect—its students?” Now, we ask, “Columbia
administration, what is your end goal?” President Shafik, you have made
it abundantly clear that your priorities lie with Columbia’s image and
assets, not with its students. We have witnessed the total annihilation
of Columbia as the advertised collegiate beacon of free speech,
expression, and the right to protest. We have witnessed your
capitulation to harmful media representation and opportunistic
Republicans whose aim, it seems, is to put the values of a liberal
education on trial. We have witnessed House Speaker Mike Johnson
threatening intervention
the National Guard from the steps of Low Library and a congressman call
withholding financial aid from protesters in a press conference outside
Columbia’s gates. Your misguided allegiances and failure to negotiate
effectively have encouraged an environment where individuals are
emboldened to climb the 116th Street gates, wave the flag of
self-proclaimed terrorist group Lehi, and verbally harass students—how
did we get here?

While you remain selective in your care for your students’ safety, they
remain steadfast in their commitment to their community. In response to
your identification of student protesters as a “clear and present
danger”—an assessment NYPD Chief John Chell
distinguished from the NYPD’s perspective—thousands of us, along with
faculty and guests from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds, have
organized to uplift the spirit of the encampment. When the University
fails to provide
consistent community values, it is the true community of students who
come together to fill that gap. Protesters have led teach-ins and
assembly meetings, introduced and reinforced community guidelines, and
manifested their own vision of meaningful University life. The students,
not the administrators, have stepped up to protect one another from the
media’s eagerness to “expose” the demonstration as antisemitic,
anti-American, or something else entirely irrelevant to Columbia
University Apartheid Divest’s
clear demands.

As Kamala Harris so helpfully reminds us,
<> “everything is in
context.” President Shafik, do you think “you just fell out of a coconut
tree?” You exist in context—that is, the context of University
presidents across history who have attempted to suppress and control
student voices for change, while still shamelessly touting Columbia’s
“storied history” of protests. Your administration has proven, not only
to your students, but to the world, that Columbia hasn’t learned from
the past—notably, the Vietnam War protests in 1968 and the
anti-apartheid protests in 1984.

It took Columbia decades to rebuild its image following the campus
events of 1968. Undoubtedly it will take time, too, for Columbia to
rebuild after your decision to authorize the NYPD on campus. If your
administration truly cares about the well-being and safety of its
students, it should learn from not only the missteps made over the past
week, but those made throughout the school year, and throughout history.
If you truly want to “rebuild the ties that bind us together,” you must
confront the more than
30,035 Palestinian deaths and counting. Your students are not
“dictat[ing] terms”; they are calling on you and the administration to
reckon with the unfolding atrocities in which Columbia is complicit.
President Shafik, your students are everything. But you’re an economist,
so we’ll put it in economic terms: Your students are assets, not

What you do has ramifications, not only for the future of this
institution, but for the example you are setting of a tenuous
relationship between administrators and protesters that will ripple
across the country. All eyes are on Columbia: The “Gaza Solidarity
Encampment” has sparked at least a
dozen other encampments, from Emerson College and Tufts University to
Brown and Vanderbilt University. Likewise, your choice to allow the NYPD
to arrest protesters has now been aped in the arrest of
47 students at Yale and
120 at NYU. Our protesters are not only setting precedent, you are—and
the example you are setting is a dangerous one. Everyone is watching,
President Shafik. Don’t turn your back on your students any longer.

Early Wednesday morning, you allotted the administration 48 hours to
continue conversations. During this time, we hope you can reflect on the
importance of your student body for your institution. We hope you can
understand that the “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” does, in fact, stand in
solidarity with Gaza, and as we write in defense of student protests at
universities across the United States, we hope you can recognize there
are no more universities standing in Gaza. Resorting to more campus
militarization, more student demonization, and further ignorance of
Columbia’s complicity in war crimes will only cement your place on the
wrong side of history.

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