cooper union students

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Video shows Jewish students barricading selves in college library as pro-Palestinian protesters pound on doors

Protesters say they weren’t targeting any individuals.

 

Katherine Huggins

Tech

Video of pro-Palestinian protesters banging on the doors of the library at Cooper Union, a college in New York City, went viral Wednesday and drew swift condemnation from area politicians.

CBS News reported that about 20 students had been demonstrating outside the school president’s office before making their way down to the library.

“The librarians ran over to us and they were like, ‘We tried to warn you, but we just got notice that they’re coming down,’” sophomore Taylor Lent told CBS.

Amid safety concerns, staff locked the students in the library.

Video from inside the library shows protesters banging on the doors and chanting “Free Palestine.”

“They were specifically acting very aggressive in those spaces where outwardly Jewish students were sitting,” one student told CBS.

After the protest ended, students inside the library were escorted out by security, according to multiple reports.

Students representing the pro-Palestinian rally said in a statement that they intended to protest throughout the campus and were not seeking to intimidate Jewish students.

“When we reached the library, we were told that it was closed so we continued chanting outside the glass window of the library,” the statement added. “Many different students of all backgrounds were in the library at the time. We would like to make it clear that our protest was not targeting any individual students or faculty, but the institution itself. We would like to reiterate that we DO NOT under any circumstance condone antisemitism and many members of the protest were Jewish.”

NYPD said there were no arrests, injuries, or property damage stemming from the protest. Although multiple 911 calls were made from inside the library, no arrests are expected because no specific threats were made.

Nonetheless, videos of the incident prompted criticism from Democratic and Republican New York lawmakers alike.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) said on Wednesday that state officials had been in communication with local law enforcement about the protest, adding that “antisemitism and all forms of hate and intimidation are unacceptable and have no place in New York State.”

Similarly, New York City Mayor Eric Adams said that the city was in contact with NYPD and Cooper Union and that “hate has no place in our city.” Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine said that NYPD was reviewing footage from the protest on Wednesday but it was clear that “it’s absolutely appalling that Jewish students were intimidated and harassed this way.”

Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.) similarly slammed the protest, writing on X: “In America, we all should have the freedom to be who we are and worship as we please, without fear of intimidation and harassment and violence. Where there is fear, there can never be freedom. Shame on Cooper Union for failing to protect the freedom of its Jewish students from a dangerous mob.”

“This is what schools across America allowed and encouraged to fester and here is the result,” said Republican Councilwoman Inna Vernikov. “Jewish students barricading and being petrified for their safety”

Vernikov added in a thread Thursday morning that it was “a terrible DERELICTION OF DUTY on behalf of [Cooper Union] to protect its Jewish students from physical harm, a failure to provide them with a safe space, and the university must be held accountable for creating a HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT.”

University President Laura Sparks has not yet put out a public statement addressing the incident.

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