Manhattan DA Drops Charges Against 30 Columbia Protesters Arrested Over Campus Building Occupation

Prosecutor cites lack of evidence, lack of criminal history, and internal discipline at Columbia in decision to dismiss trespassing cases

A demonstrator breaks the windows of the front door of a building at Colombia (Alex Kent/Getty Images)

MANHATTAN—The Manhattan district attorney’s office, led by anti-Trump prosecutor Alvin Bragg, dismissed trespassing charges against 30 Columbia University protesters who were arrested for occupying a campus building.

The Washington Free Beacon attended the Thursday afternoon proceedings at the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse. A trove of students and their supporters, many of whom used face masks and keffiyehs to cover their faces, streamed into the building just before 3 p.m., the Free Beacon observed.

Inside the courtroom—where audio and video recording is not allowed—a prosecutor in Bragg’s office argued that the defendants should not face criminal penalties, citing their lack of criminal histories and arguing that the protesters will face internal discipline at Columbia.

The prosecutor also argued that Bragg’s office lacked evidence to land convictions in the cases, given those who occupied Hamilton Hall wore masks and covered up surveillance cameras. New York City police arrested the occupiers while they were inside Hamilton Hall.

The Free Beacon spotted several Columbia faculty members in the crowd, and the public defender for the protesters made reference to “Hind’s Hall,” the name student protesters used to refer to Hamilton Hall. Ahead of the proceedings, a Columbia faculty group urged its Instagram followers to “come on through” to a “Pack the Courts for the Hind’s Hall 46” demonstration.

In total, Bragg’s office dismissed charges against 30 individuals arrested for occupying the building. As a result, the large majority of those who occupied Hamilton Hall will not face criminal penalties—46 people were arrested and charged in connection with the occupation.

Once their cases were dismissed, protesters headed outside to hold a defiant press conference. One speaker, whose entire head was covered with a ski mask, said the protesters “resist the pigs, the police in the U.S.”

“This is standing with Palestinian resistance,” he said. “This is an interlinking of our struggles—struggles against carceral violence, against colonialism, against racism, against genocide.” The speaker, who went by “Mickey Mouse,” later said the protesters “refuse to condemn the Palestinian resistance.”

The 30 protesters who saw their cases dismissed Thursday were arrested in an April 30 police sweep of Columbia’s Manhattan campus, which came less than 24 hours after they stormed Hamilton Hall, used tables, chairs, and a human chain to block entry to the building, and hoisted an “intifada” banner.

Of the 112 people arrested that night, roughly two-thirds were affiliated with the university.

Original News Source – Washington Free Beacon

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