Charges Dropped Against Most Columbia Building Occupiers

Another 14 were offered a deal but turned it down
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 21, 2024 5:06 AM CDT
Charges Dropped Against Most Columbia Building Occupiers
A student protester parades a Palestinian flag outside the entrance to Hamilton Hall on the campus of Columbia University, Tuesday, April 30, 2024, in New York.   (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, Pool, File)

Two-thirds of the pro-Palestinian protesters arrested over the occupation of Columbia's Hamilton Hall on April 30 saw their charges dropped by New York prosecutors on Thursday. The move applies to 31 of the 46 students and staff who were arrested and hit with the misdemeanor charge of trespass in the third degree. The standout details:

  • Why: The Manhattan DA's office cited "prosecutorial discretion and lack of evidence" in connection with the move, saying there was "extremely limited" surveillance video because "certain defendants" immediately covered the cameras, per CNN. Those who did so have not been identified, and the video that does exist "fails to establish or prove" the 31 people damaged any university property.
  • Other consequences: "At the time of the charged conduct, the defendants were either staff employed by, or students enrolled in, Columbia University, and are now subject to student or staff disciplinary proceedings," the DA's office noted.

  • The 15 other defendants: The DA's office also told the court it would drop charges against 14 others—only two are students, reports CBS News—so long as they don't get arrested in the next six months; the defendants turned down the offer and will appear in court July 25. The BBC reports the 15th defendant faces other charges, including setting fire to an Israeli flag prior to the building's occupation.
  • A quote from outside the courthouse: "The state has attempted once again to divide us, dismissing some of our cases and offering others deals in accordance with their outside agitator narrative," one Columbia student said. "As ever, we categorically reject this division as one drawn along arbitrary, classist lines meant to preserve the sanctity of Columbia University, not an institution in the city of New York, but always above and apart from it."
(More 2024 campus protests stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.