Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaking outside

Ron Adar/Shutterstock (Licensed)

‘Reckless and dangerous’: AOC rebukes crackdown on Columbia’s pro-Palestine protests as National Guard fears loom

'I condemn it in the strongest possible terms.'


Katherine Huggins


Posted on Apr 24, 2024

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) joined those condemning Columbia University’s handling of the student-led, pro-Palestine demonstrations that have swept the campus over the past week.

“Calling in police enforcement on nonviolent demonstrations of young students on campus is an escalatory, reckless, and dangerous act,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote on X. “It represents a heinous failure of leadership that puts people’s lives at risk. I condemn it in the strongest possible terms.”

The university attempted to disperse an encampment zone in the center of campus using New York Police Department (NYPD) officers, who made over 100 arrests. That move, however, appears to have backfired, instead garnering national media attention and doubled down efforts from the protesters.

In response to the demonstration, the university temporarily switched to remote classes and is offering a hybrid option for the remainder of the semester. And now, students protesting say the university has threatened to bring in the national guard to crack down on the protest.

The school’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine stated on Tuesday that Columbia University Apartheid Divest negotiators had been threatened with both NYPD and the National Guard if they don’t meet the university’s demands, adding, “We refuse to concede to cowardly threats and blatant intimidation by university administration.”

The negotiations will not resume “until there is a written commitment that the administration will not be unleashing the NYPD or the National Guard on its students,” the press release states.

But New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) said she currently has no plans to call in the National Guard to dispel the protesters, telling reporters on Tuesday, “I don’t think it’s necessary at this time, but if the NYPD calls and says they need help, we’re always there for them.”

However, speculation about the possibility of National Guard deployment—as well as Columbia’s authorization for NYPD to arrest protesters—have come under furious criticism from progressive advocates.

“I can’t believe Columbia University would rather bring in the National Guard and potentially see harm done to their students and faculty….than to listen to them,” echoed a former New York state lawmaker.

One Columbia University lecturer referenced the Kent State killings by members of the Ohio national guard of four anti-war student protesters in 1970, saying: “Those calling for the National Guard to be sent onto college campuses are well aware of the Kent State Massacre where 4 student anti-war protesters were shot and killed. I believe they are making this demand, not in spite of this history, but because of it.”

Other left-wing lawmakers have praised the protests, with Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) writing on Tuesday that “we cannot give in to right wing pressure to suppress our freedom of expression.”

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) argued that students at Columbia and across the country who are protesting against the war in Gaza “are being retaliated against for using their constitutional rights to protest genocide.”

And Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.)—whose daughter was arrested in the protest—said that the suspensions and arrests of students at Columbia “have now ignited a nationwide Gaza Solidarity movement.”

“This is more than the students hoped for and I am glad to see this type of solidarity,” Omar said. “But to be clear, this about the genocide in Gaza and the attention has to remain on that.”

But the potential use of the National Guard would be a welcome development for some opponents of the demonstration, including Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who called on President Joe Biden to send the National Guard to Columbia University.

“The nascent pogroms at Columbia have to stop TODAY, before our Jewish brethren sit for Passover Seder tonight,” Cotton said on Monday. “If Eric Adams won’t send the NYPD and Kathy Hochul won’t send the National Guard, Joe Biden has a duty to take charge and break up these mobs.”

The internet is chaotic—but we’ll break it down for you in one daily email. Sign up for the Daily Dot’s web_crawlr newsletter here to get the best (and worst) of the internet straight into your inbox.

Share this article
*First Published: Apr 24, 2024, 10:14 am CDT