White House says Columbia students are ‘wrong’ to occupy admin building, promote intifada

Apr 30, 2024 | Political News

On Tuesday, the Biden White House condemned the Columbia University students who occupied Hamilton Hall overnight, calling their actions “wrong.”

In a statement, White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates said Joe Biden supports every American's right to protest, but urged those taking part to ensure their demonstrations remain “peaceful and lawful.”

“President Biden has stood against repugnant, Antisemitic smears and violent rhetoric his entire life,” Bates noted. “He condemns the use of the term ‘intifada,' as he has the other tragic and dangerous hate speech displayed in recent days.”

He explained while Biden “respects the right to free expression,” protests must not put anyone in danger and must follow the law. 

“Forcibly taking over buildings is not peaceful – it is wrong,” Bates stated, adding that, “hate speech and hate symbols have no place in America.”

Around 12:30 am Tuesday, protestors at the university grabbed their sleeping bags and occupied Hamilton Hall, barricading themselves inside with furniture and zip ties.

A banner was unfurled declaring that the building was now known as Hind's Hall, referring to a 6-year-old Palestinian girl who was killed during the ongoing Israel Hamas war.

Nearby, another banner read “intifada,” the Arabic word used to describe the violent uprising of Palestinians agaisnt Israel.

All through the night, the building was trashed, windows were smashed, and protestors were essentially given free rein.

In the morning, however, the university took action, limiting access to campus until further notice. Effective immediately, only essential workers and students living in residence were allowed to enter. Outsiders, including members of the media, were told they would be turned away.

Officials later announced that those who participated in the occupation would be expelled, and those who took part in the encampment would be suspended.