Adams, NYPD blame 'outside agitators' for fueling anti-Israel protests at Columbia, NYU

Adams, NYPD blame 'outside agitators' for fueling anti-Israel protests at Columbia, NYU
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Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Police Department top brass condemned "outside agitators" for fanning the flames of anti-Israel protests at Columbia and New York University as police made more arrests.

At his usual Tuesday press conference from City Hall, Adams, a Democrat and former police officer, praised the NYPD's response.

"We can't have outside agitators come in and be destructive to our city," Adams said. "Someone wanted something to happen at that protest at NYU."

"People who peacefully protest for an issue, they're not throwing bottles [and] chairs," the mayor added. "And so we know that we have acknowledged and saw across the country there are people who come [who] have nothing to do with the issue, and they want to aggravate. Now, if those police officers didn't show a high level of discipline, this could have been an ugly situation."

The NYPD confirmed that 120 people were taken into custody by New York University on Monday, including 116 who were released with a summons for trespassing.

The department identified four people who were issued desk appearance tickets: Asif Ali, 24, of Queens; Tracy Jawad, 24, of Brooklyn; Bassel Yassein, 27, of Brooklyn; and Harrison Frahn, 22, of Brooklyn. All four were charged with resisting arrest and obstructing governmental administration, while Ali and Yassein also face a trespassing charge.

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"What I learned during the Black Lives Matter protest, when I was notified under the previous administration that there were anarchists that came into the city with the determination of really disrupting and tearing our city apart," Adams said. "We strongly believe that is the case right now, that there are people who are here. They latch on to any protests to see our police officers having bottles thrown at them, chairs."

anti-Israel agitator at NYU with officers present
NYPD officers make arrests at New York University on April 22, 2024.

Adams referenced seeing a photo of an officer's helmet dented after a demonstrator struck him in the head with a chair, defending the choice to have officers maintain a presence in riot gear.

"They are going to protect themselves from what I believe is a number of people who are really trying to use this to cause violence in our city. And we're going to … seek them out, and we're going to identify them," the mayor said, agreeing with NYPD Commissioner Kaz Daughtry in questioning why all the protesters had similar tents at Columbia and NYU.

"Was there a fire sale on those tents? So, there's some organizing going on," Adams said. "There's a well-concertive organizing effort. And what's the goal of that organizing? That's what we need to be asking ourselves."

Daughtry told WABC Tuesday morning that the department identified "known professional agitators" at Monday night’s protests who wanted to "rouse up the mob mentality to agitate the officers to get the officers to react, to get one of them to assault one of the protesters so they can get that image [that shows] ‘Look, I’m getting brutally assaulted by the police.'"

NYU mass protest
Protesters are seen at New York University on April 22, 2024.

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NYPD spokesperson Tarik Sheppard, who appeared with Daughtry, described how the NYPD responded.

"The landlord, in this case NYU or Columbia, has to invite us in before we can just go onto private property and say that you’re trespassing," Daughtry said. "If this was a public street and you’re blocking traffic, or if this is a public institution, we would be able to make that assessment ourselves and move in accordingly. However, even on private property, if there were crimes being committed, we do not have to wait for an invite. Obviously, if someone [is] calling 911, we could step in and take action."

NYPD hold the line at NYU anti-Israel protest
NYPD officers hold the line at New York University on April 22, 2024.

NYU gave students until 4 p.m. to leave on Monday, Daughtry added, describing how the faculty lined up at the back of the campus seemed the "most resistant" to police officers responding to the scene.

All 10 House Republicans in the New York delegation, led by House GOP Chair Elise Stefanik, have called for Columbia President Minouche Shafik’s resignation after demonstrations over the weekend prompted the Ivy League school’s rabbi to warn Jewish students to go home ahead of the start of Passover because campus police and the NYPD could not guarantee their safety.

Columbia's leadership called in the NYPD to arrest more than 100 people on Thursday, the day after Shafik was held to account before the House Education and the Workforce Committee in Washington, D.C., over spiraling antisemitism at the university, but demonstrations escalated for several days afterward over the weekend.

NYU protesters recording
Police arrested more than 100 students at New York University who continued their anti-Israel demonstration on April 22, 2024.

Breaking her silence in an early morning statement Monday, Shafik said she preferred to hold discussions with protesters on campus property without involving police, adding that "Antisemitic language, like any other language that is used to hurt and frighten people, is unacceptable and appropriate action will be taken."

New York Democrat Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand condemned the anti-Israel protests at New York City’s campuses, writing in a statement Monday, "I'm appalled at the virulent antisemitism being displayed on Columbia University’s campus. Threats of violence against Jewish students and the Jewish community are horrible, despicable and wholly unacceptable. Using the rhetoric of terrorists has absolutely no place in New York."


Original article source: Adams, NYPD blame 'outside agitators' for fueling anti-Israel protests at Columbia, NYU