Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Hochul defends use of police force to quell college protests

New York City police officers take people into custody near the Columbia University campus in New York on Tuesday, April 30, 2024, after a building taken over by protesters earlier in the day was cleared, along with a tent encampment.
Craig Ruttle
/
The Associated Press
New York City police officers take people into custody near the Columbia University campus in New York on Tuesday, April 30, 2024, after a building taken over by protesters earlier in the day was cleared, along with a tent encampment.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul 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 on Tuesday night. 

She said students who aren’t protesting have rights, too.

Police stormed a barricaded Hamilton Hall on the Columbia University campus and arrested about 300 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, said students have a First Amendment right to speak their minds. But she said 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,” Hochul 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 Oct. 7 is reprehensible.”

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

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

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

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for the New York Public News Network, composed of a dozen newsrooms across the state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.