NYC says half of those arrested at two pro-Palestinian campus protests were not students

Officials in New York City say nearly half of the 282 people arrested at pro-Palestinian protests on two campuses last week are not affiliated with either school.

The arrest summary was released Thursday by the New York City Police Department and Mayor Eric Adams after mounting pressure on Adams to reveal how many of those arrested at Columbia University and the City College of New York were students following his repeated claims of “outside agitators” led the protests that led to the arrests.

City officials said 29% of the 112 people arrested at a protest in Columbia on Tuesday were not affiliated with the school. At the City College protest, 60% of the 170 arrested were not affiliated with the school, according to the city’s press release.

Police were sent to Columbia University at the request of school administrators, who had said the occupation of Hamilton Hall by demonstrators was led by individuals not affiliated with Columbia.

As students on campuses across the country protest Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza, with many demanding their universities be divested from Israel, school officials have called for police action. More than 2,100 people have been arrested in pro-Palestinian protests on college campuses in recent weeks. But officials in some cities have rejected calls from school administrators to disband police against campus protests.

Adams told NPR on Thursday that he sent police to Columbia after learning that “the husband of one of the outside agitators had been arrested on federal terrorism charges.”

He called that the “tipping point,” adding, “I knew I couldn’t sit back and say I was going to allow this to escalate further.”

Nahla Al-Arian, the person he was referring to, told The Associated Press that the mayor had misrepresented her husband’s history and her role in the protest.

After a crowd of protesters marched from Columbia to nearby City College on Tuesday evening, public safety officials at the university made 25 arrests before calling in the NYPD, who made even more arrests. Police said school officials made the call in response to “violence and vandalism, and not in response to peaceful protest.”

Students and onlookers have criticized the heavy use of police on Manhattan campuses — and at other schools.

City officials have not released any further identifying information on the list of individuals arrested during Tuesday’s campus protests.

“We have turned everything over to the school and it is up to the school to determine whether to release the names of students and non-students,” Mayor Adams said Thursday on NY1’s morning show.

The city also said the protesters’ refusal to speak to police hampered the arrest identification process. The mayor’s office has not yet responded to NPR’s questions about how law enforcement determined the university affiliation of those arrested.

“Most of those arrested were uncooperative with the NYPD and unwilling to provide information – delaying the process of determining whether they had any connection to Columbia or CCNY,” the city press release said.

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