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Hochul Defends Use of Police Force To Quell College Protests

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Governor Kathy Hochul
Office of the Governor

New York Governor Kathy Hochul today (on Wednesday) defended the use of New York Police Department forces to quell increasingly violent student protests at Columbia University and the City College of New York last night (Tuesday night). She says students who aren’t protesting have rights, too.

The police action included the storming of a barricaded Hamilton Hall on the Columbia University campus. It resulted in around 300 arrests of students and other pro- Palestinian protesters demonstrating against the war in Gaza, and the school’s financial ties to the state of Israel.

Hochul, who praised the NYPD for acting professionally and fairly, says students have a First Amendment right to speak their minds. But she says when it devolves into violence, vandalism, destruction of property, and harassment, a line has been crossed.

Let me be clear: There is no circumstance where violence or vandalism is tolerated or acceptable, whether you're on a college campus or walking the streets of New York,” the governor said. “Targeting Jewish students for harassment or abuse because of the actions of the Israeli government is also antisemitic and wrong, glorifying the acts of Hamas on October 7th is reprehensible.”

The governor says racist or Islamophobic rhetoric is also not acceptable.

Hochul says most of the students on the campuses just want to finish their studies, take their exams — and in the case of college seniors, have an in-person graduation. Manycollege seniors today saw their high school graduation canceled because of the COVID pandemic.

“Everyone is entitled to participate in a live commencement ceremony,” she said.

Hochul says State Police are willing to help if local law enforcement in communities where protests are occurring requests them. But she says she does not envision sending in the New York National Guard at this time.

Hochul also says she has no sympathy for students who might be expelled for illegal behavior while protesting. She says they knew about the consequences and did it anyway.