NYC Police Arrest 27 Protesters Who Marched Toward Met Gala

(Bloomberg) -- Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters were blocked by the police on Monday evening from getting close to the Met Gala, the most-exclusive event in New York City’s glitterati calendar.

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Groups including students from Columbia University, Baruch College and New York University converged at Hunter College, after which about 800 demonstrators marched toward the event, held annually at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, according to the city’s police department.

They were intercepted before they reached the venue, and a total of 27 protesters were taken into custody, the NYPD said, adding that an investigation is under way.

The demonstrators were chanting and demanding that institutions cut their financial ties and divest from Israel, echoing protesters who established encampments at universities across the US over the past two weeks. Additionally, they were also calling for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, NBC News reported.

The Met Gala — a magnet for billionaires, celebrities, designers and various other members of the jet set — is notoriously exclusive and an emblem of American wealth, fame and power. Attendees have to be willing to drop $75,000 a pop for the privilege of scoring a ticket. This year’s attendees included Jeff Bezos, Steve Schwarzman, Kim Kardashian, Serena Williams, Zendaya and Matt Damon.

The benefit gala raises millions of dollars each year, and pays for the annual budget of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. While event is typically marked by glitz and glamor, it’s also the frequent target of protests for social causes.

In fact, some of the attendees themselves make statements with their presence at the event. In 2021, progressive Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez arrived at the Met Gala wearing a dress with the message “TAX THE RICH” splashed across the back.

This year’s event took place against the backdrop of the conflict in the Middle East and a protest movement that has rocked American campuses since mid-April. Colleges from the East Coast to California and Texas are cracking down after weeks of escalating demonstrations over the Israel-Hamas war.

Columbia University in New York on Monday said it was canceling its main May 15 commencement ceremony. It had ordered a police raid last week in which more than 100 pro-Palestinian protesters were arrested, including dozens who had occupied a campus building.

Also on Monday, Palestinian militant group Hamas and Israel failed to agree on a deal for a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip. That dashed hopes for an immediate pause in fighting in the enclave.

Hamas — designated a terrorist organization by the US — is still holding hostages after killing more than 1,200 people in an attack on Israel on Oct. 7. Israel’s counterattack against the group has killed tens of thousands of Palestinians, including civilians, in Gaza.

--With assistance from Amanda Gordon and Caroline Salas Gage.

(Recasts to add details about arrests by the NYPD.)

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