Manhattan DA Drops Charges Against Columbia Protesters

( – The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office last week told a judge that it was dropping criminal charges against most of the pro-Hamas protesters who forcefully occupied a building on the Columbia University campus in late April.

In a June 20 court hearing, prosecutors said they would not pursue charges against 31 of the 46 individuals initially arrested for trespassing inside Hamilton Hall. A group of students and outside agitators seized the building on April 30 and barricaded themselves inside using padlocks and furniture.

University officials called in the NYPD and hundreds of officers descended on campus and retook the building using a second-story window, arresting dozens of protesters.

Prosecutors said most of the protesters had no criminal histories and no specific acts of property damage could be linked to them.

Assistant District Attorney Stephen Millan told the judge that because the protesters were masked and the surveillance cameras inside the building were blocked, it was difficult to prove that the 31 individuals were involved in damaging university property or “causing harm to anyone.”

While the Columbia students may have criminal charges dismissed, they still face disciplinary hearings from the university and possible expulsion.

Prosecutors will pursue charges against one suspect who was also accused of breaking a surveillance camera inside an NYPD holding cell and setting fire to an Israeli flag during the campus demonstrations.

Thirteen others arrested inside Hamilton Hall were offered plea deals that would have essentially dismissed the charges against them. However, “in a show of solidarity,” the suspects refused to make a deal, according to Columbia University Apartheid Divest, the group representing the arrested protesters.

Most of the 13 were not currently enrolled at Columbia but were alumni, prosecutors said. Only two were students.

Nine others, who also rejected plea deals, would have the charges dismissed, according to prosecutors.

The pro-Hamas protests at Columbia sparked a wave of similar campus protests across the country that led to more than 3,000 arrests nationwide.

Copyright 2024,