Pro-Palestinian legal group files federal civil rights complaint against Columbia over arrest of anti-Israel protesters

New York Police Department officers in riot gear stand guard as pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel demonstrators chant slogans outside the Columbia University campus, April 18, 2024, in New York City. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
New York Police Department officers in riot gear stand guard as pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel demonstrators chant slogans outside the Columbia University campus, April 18, 2024, in New York City. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

A pro-Palestinian legal group has filed a federal civil rights complaint against Columbia University following last week’s mass arrest of anti-Israel protesters after the school called police to clear demonstrator encampments, the group says.

Palestine Legal, an organization that seeks to protect the rights of people in the US to speak out on behalf of Palestinians, urged the US Education Department to probe the school’s actions, which it alleges were discriminatory against those who are pro-Palestinian.

Columbia University declined to comment.

Last week, the university tried to shut down campus demonstrations by force when Columbia President Minouche Shafik took the unusual move of inviting New York City police to enter the campus. More than 100 people were arrested.

Protests have since continued at Columbia and spread to other US campuses where hundreds have been arrested in the last week.

US Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said earlier today he was following reports of allegations of antisemitism on college campuses. Earlier this month, a former Cornell University student pleaded guilty to posting online threats, including of death and violence against Jewish students on campus.

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