NYC Mayor 'Horrified' by Antisemitism at Columbia University Protests

Campus tensions escalate amid national political spotlight

by Zain ul Abedin
NYC Mayor 'Horrified' by Antisemitism at Columbia University Protests
© Spencer Platt/Getty Images

New York City Mayor Eric Adams forcefully condemned the acts of antisemitism observed during ongoing protests at Columbia University, describing his reaction as one of horror and disgust in a statement released on Sunday.

The protests, which have been primarily focused on the Israel-Hamas conflict, have persisted for five days on the university's Upper Manhattan campus, resulting in over 100 arrests, as reported by law enforcement officials.

Amid rising tensions, Mayor Adams announced he had directed the New York Police Department (NYPD) to investigate any reported violations of the law thoroughly. He affirmed the NYPD's commitment to act decisively against any unlawful activities, stating, "Rest assured, the NYPD will not hesitate to arrest anyone found to be breaking the law." The protests have seen instances of overt hate speech, with Mayor Adams specifically pointing out several disturbing examples: a sign targeting Jewish students as potential targets for the Al-Qasam Brigades, vocal support expressed for Hamas, and chants explicitly rejecting Zionists from the campus.

In response to the escalating situation, Columbia University’s Chief Operating Officer, Cas Holloway, revealed enhanced security measures on the school's website. These include the addition of 35 guards, heightened perimeter security with more private personnel, and increased surveillance at the Kraft Center during Passover.

Campus Safety Scrutiny

The protests began on April 17, following testimony by Columbia University President Minouche Shafik to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce regarding antisemitism on college campuses.

This backdrop has intensified scrutiny of the university's handling of the protests and its implications for campus safety. New York Representative Elise Stefanik has been vocal about the university's perceived failures. She demanded President Shafik’s resignation over inadequate enforcement of campus rules and protection for Jewish students.

She criticized the administration's preparation for the congressional hearing as a mere cover-up. As tensions flare in New York, particularly with the Jewish community beginning Passover, Mayor Adams emphasized the city's commitment to ensuring safety and upholding the right to peaceful protest.

However, he made it clear that these rights do not extend to harassment, threats, or physical violence. Mayor Adams concluded his statement by underscoring the unity needed during these tumultuous times, asserting, "In this moment of heightened tension around the world, we stand united against hate." This firm stance aims to bridge the community during a period marked by global unrest and local incidents of intolerance.