Students at CUNY, Columbia University, NYU and several other New York City colleges walked out of their classes on Wednesday — a demonstration in support of Palestinians as tensions in New York City over the Israel-Hamas war continue to mount.
Hundreds of people gathered in front of Columbia’s Low Memorial Library by 1 p.m. Wednesday, with students filling its adjoining steps and others trickling out into the broader area. About a dozen counter protesters at the Columbia demonstration waved Israeli flags from the sidelines and occasionally shouted over the main group.
Many of the walkouts on Wednesday are reportedly organized by National Students for Justice in Palestine along with other groups and are in response to worsening violence in Gaza, weeks after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel.
A dozen NYPD officers set up barricades outside Columbia and helped check students IDs for those entering. Two police helicopters were seen circling the campus.
St. Francis College, The New School, and Cooper Union also had protests scheduled. The CUNY campuses with scheduled protests include Lehman College, Brooklyn College, Baruch College, Hunter College, and CUNY Graduate Center.
At CUNY Graduate Center in Midtown, hundreds of protestors with handmade signs left class at 3:30 p.m. chanting “From Palestine to Mexico, all the walls have got to go!” Passing taxis and buses honked in unison, eliciting cheers from the students.
Tatiana Cozzarelli, an adjunct professor, led several chants, and called on the United States to stop financial support of Israel.
“College campuses all over the country are waking out today to say end the siege and free Palestine!” Cozzarelli said. “No one is free while one of us is in chains.”
Suzanne Bronski, a Baruch spokesperson, said the school was taking “extra precautions …as needed” to ensure safety.
“Students have the right to peacefully leave a class and any absence will be treated in accordance with a professor’s standing class participation or attendance policy,” Bronski said in a statement. “Baruch College does not sanction student walkouts and reiterates that students or anyone from Baruch who chooses to organize or attend these events are in no way speaking for or representing Baruch College.”
As of 4:00 p.m., NYPD was not reporting any arrests at any of the college protests.
At least two pro-Israeli demonstrations were also expected Wednesday, with a protest outside of the Israeli consulate in support of rescuing hostages scheduled for Wednesday morning. Zionist groups and organizations opposed to antisemitism were also expected to gather at Columbia later in the day.
This story has been updated with additional reporting from the protests.