US: Columbia protesters take over Hamilton Hall, rename it after ‘Hind Rajab’

The pro-Palestine protesters took over a building at Columbia University in New York

Columbia protesters Hamilton Hall Protesters link arms outside Hamilton Hall barricading students inside the building at Columbia University during the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in New York City | Reuters

The pro-Palestine protesters took over a building at Columbia University in New York on Tuesday in the latest escalation of demonstrations against the Israel-Hamas war. Video footage showed protesters on Columbia's Manhattan campus locking arms in front of Hamilton Hall and barricading the entrances to the building. 

The iconic building was occupied during a 1968 civil rights and anti-Vietnam War protest on the campus. Protesters were seen holding the banner 'Free Palestine' and raising slogans against Israel's 'genocide'. 

The group had renamed the building Hind's Hall, in honour of Hind Rajab, a six-year-old killed during an Israeli airstrike in Gaza. 

The student radio station, WKCR-FM, broadcast a play-by-play of the hall's takeover which occurred nearly 12 hours after Monday's 2 pm deadline for the protesters to leave an encampment of around 120 tents or face suspension.

According to the safety department, access to the university has been limited to students living in the residential buildings and employees, including those providing essential services. 

The safety of every single member of this community is paramount, the advisory said. There is only one entry and exit point on the campus as of now. 

Meanwhile, the protesters said that they planned to remain at the hall until the university conceded to the CUAD's three demands: divestment, financial transparency and amnesty.

Protests have been spreading across the US campuses amid the ongoing Gaza war. Dozens of people were arrested Monday during protests at universities in Texas, Utah, Virginia and New Jersey, while Columbia said hours before the takeover of Hamilton Hall that it had started suspending students.

Later Monday, riot police sought to break up an encampment outside the University of Utah's president's office that went up in the afternoon. 

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