Columbia University sets deadline for protesters to stop camping on site

At dawn on Wednesday 17 April, a small group of students pitched their tents at Columbia University, demonstrating against Israeli military action in Gaza and calling on their university to stop doing business with companies they see as supporting the war.

The next afternoon, the Columbia president Minouche Shafik made a decision that would ignite a wildfire of protest at colleges across the United States.

The students at the protest camp were trespassing, had refused to leave and had created a “harassing and intimidating environment” for many of their peers, she said.

Soon after, officers from the largest police department in the US, wearing riot gear and wielding plastic handcuffs, arrested more than 100 students – the first time mass arrests had been made on Columbia’s campus since Vietnam War protests more than five decades ago.

By the middle of this week, demonstrations were taking place at dozens of campuses across the US.

You can read more on how the movement began and how it has unfolded so far here.

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