Columbia students stand their ground, protect academic building on campus from violent, pro-Palestinian protesters

NEW YORK CITY, NY - On Tuesday, April 30th, a mob of anti-Israeli protesters took over Columbia University's Hamilton Hall and one brave student tried his hardest to stop the takeover, attempting to delay the agitators long enough so that police or security could arrive on scene to back the student and others up. 

According to Fox News, 22-year-old Rory Wilson, a history senior, told Fox News Digital that he is furious that the takeover occurred under the university's police watch and that police with the New York Police Department (NYPD) never showed up despite the students calling 911. 

Wilson said that he was asleep in his dorm after midnight when his friends woke him up to tell him that protesters were planning to takeover Hamilton Hall, an academic building used by the dean and other senior administration. In an effort to protect the building from being targeted, Wilson and his friends made their way to the entrance of the building by slipping through gaps in the human chains the protesters had formed. 

Wilson said that the human chains broke up while protesters were trying to drag a black metal table up to the entrance of the building and tie it to the door. Chaotic video shows Wilson and his friend, Charles Beck proceed to stand in front of the doors while the anti-Israeli protesters furiously pushed up against them. 

Wilson, a practicing Christian who also has some Jewish lineage and Israeli relatives, said, "It was a matter of trying to stand for what I believe is right, even if ultimately we weren't able to stop the mob. They were acting illegally and apart from what you think about the situation in Israel, we know that this was wrong and inappropriate." 

He added, "Damaging university property, disrupting school activities, violating the university whose administration had been trying very hard to negotiate with them. I was telling people that this is my protest of your protest, that they were completely out of line and that I was free to stand there as a student on my own campus."

Wilson and Beck continued to stand their ground, until Beck was dragged away by the violent protesters. A man dressed in all black then tried to toss Wilson onto the floor. It is unclear if that individual is part of the college or not. Wilson said that the man dressed in all black had been guarding the encampment on the lawn earlier in the day and had called him a "Zionist" as he passed by. The man also spewed hateful rhetoric in Arabic, which a friend of Wilson's later translated to mean, "inbred."

When talking about the violent encounter that happened outside Hamilton Hall, Wilson said, "He definitely seemed dangerous and was physically intimidating me and grabbing my leg." The anti-Israeli protesters placed a banner in front of the hall, renaming it "Hind's Hall." Hind Rajab was a six-year-old who died during Israel's war with Hamas in Gaza, as stated by the group in a post on X.

Wilson said, "I was holding out because there were some people signaling to me that police might be coming, so I thought that I could just hold out and make a big barricade to prevent the building from getting damaged, but then they never came."

And as the protesters surrounded him at the doors, one of Wilson's friend told him to leave before things got more out of control. Wilson said, "I didn't want to risk it because a masked mob, when they're already smashing things, committing vandalism, all hyped up you don't know how violent it could turn so that's why I left."

Wilson then stepped aside before the mob smashed in the door and windows, and began occupying the building. As of Tuesday afternoon, April 30th, Hamilton Hall was still occupied by the protesters. Wilson said he wants the university to stop talking and to take action against the violent protesters. 

He said, "I'm very disappointed in the university that they just sent out an email this morning talking about how they care so much about all student's safety but then when push comes to shove, when there's an actual dangerous situation, they do nothing."

He added, "And I think that assurance rings very hollow if they're not willing to actually even show up and deal with situations when they are genuinely dire. When people exercising their legitimate rights as students of this university to stand peacefully in public areas of the university, they're being physically assaulted and they do nothing. That really, really makes me disappointed in this university and I think it's shameful."

According to the Associated Press (AP), late Tuesday police officers carried zip ties and riot shields as they stormed Hamilton Hall. Police reportedly arrested dozens of anti-Israel protesters. Earlier in the day, the police department said that officers would not enter campus grounds without the college administration's request or an imminent emergency. There will, however, be continued police presence on campus through May 17th, the end of the university's commencement events. 

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