Charges Dismissed for Dozens of Students, Staff Arrested at Columbia and City College

NYPD officers arrest Pro-Palestinian protesters at Columbia University, April 30. (Marco Postigo Storel via AP)

NEW YORK (Daily News/TNS/Hamodia) — Nearly all the students and staff arrested during an NYPD raid at Columbia University’s Hamilton Hall April 30 as it was occupied by pro-Palestinian demonstrators will have their charges dismissed, as will many of those arrested the same night at City College.

A Manhattan judge on Thursday dismissed charges, per the request of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, against 31 students and staff arrested at Columbia, as students donning keffiyahs and face masks packed a courtroom at Manhattan Criminal Court, where officers warned any outburst or reaction would not be tolerated.

Prosecutors recounted the events at the Morningside Heights campus on April 30, when hundreds of NYPD officers in riot gear stormed an administrative building pro-Palestinian protestors had seized.

The students took over Hamilton Hall shortly after Columbia President Minouche Shafik warned students who previously set up an an encampment on the school’s main lawn that they’d be subject to disciplinary action if they refused to leave.

Cops arrested 109 people during the raid — about 50 of them from within the occupied building. Another 173 were arrested the same night at a separate raid uptown at City College.

The 31 people who had charges dismissed had been arrested at Hamilton Hall, but the “extremely limited video and security footage” due to some demonstrators covering up cameras hindered any investigation, according to Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Stephen Millan. “No police officers were injured,” Millan said. “It would therefore be extremely difficult for [prosecutors] to prove any charge other than trespass at trial.”

Millan therefore asked for the dismissal of the cases against these 31 people, who have no prior criminal history.

Defense attorney Matthew Daloisio, representing some of those charged with trespassing, said many of his clients were doxxed, or had their personal information publicly exposed online.

Potential disciplinary action by the university was also a factor in prosecutors’ decision to recommend dismissal of charges, which a Manhattan Criminal Court judge signed off on.

Another 14 arrestees at Columbia — 12 of whom are not students or staff — were offered adjournments in contemplation of dismissal, in which the case is adjourned and dismissed after six months provided the defendant maintains good behavior. But NBC reported that at a news conference after the hearing, some of them said they are rejecting the offer to show solidarity with Palestinian supporters facing “repression.”

The only arrestee at Columbia whose case is ongoing is James Carlson, 40, who is not affiliated with the school and is facing separate charges of arson and criminal mischief for burning an Israeli flag and breaking an NYPD camera while in custody.

Of the 42 people arrested at City College and criminally charged, the Manhattan DA has dismissed charges against nine students and staff members, because they have no criminal history, did not damage any school property or harm police officers, they were held in custody more than 24 hours while police agencies processed their arrests, and they are subject to City College discipline.

The DA’s Office also offered adjournments in contemplation of dismissal to another nine City College arrestees.

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