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The New School’s Student Protesters Are Taken Into Police Custody

Forty-three protesters at The New School’s Manhattan campus had been detained by NYPD as of Friday afternoon.

The New School’s Student Protesters Are Taken Into Police Custody

The New School’s Making Center.

Less than 24 hours after The New School’s Students for Justice in Palestine called for an emergency vote by the school’s board of trustees to divest from companies with ties to Israel, 43 protesters had been taken into custody Friday morning at its downtown campus.

While pro-Palestinian protesters continue to speak out at dozens of college campuses and universities, the number of arrests have been increasing in recent days. An estimated 2,200 people have been arrested, according to the Associated Press. Earlier in the week, 282 people were arrested at Columbia University and at the City College of New York.

A spokeswoman for the New York City Police Department confirmed that 43 people have been detained and charges have yet to be made. In addition, 13 protesters have been taken into police custody and charges are pending.

Asked for comment about the situation, a spokesperson for The New School referenced a statement from interim president Donna Shalala that was issued to the school’s community that said, “we have been very tolerant of the students’ right to free speech as long as they did not interfere with our educational mission.” She also said that she “deeply regretted” having to call in the NYPD to clear the protesters at 2 West 13th Street.

NYPD first issued a warning to The New School’s protesters to allow anyone who wanted to leave to do so, according to Shalala. “It is a sad day for all of us who are part of this university community and who believe in free speech, which we have pledged to protect and will continue to protect,” she said.

However, TNS SJP claimed in a statement that while students at the university center had been given a verbal warning before any arrests were made, at the second encampment at Parsons School of Design, students were allegedly told to leave the building or risk arrest. The group claimed they had not been given the opportunity to leave.

The group’s statement alleged that the protesters had not been blocking building access or emergency doors.

As reported by WWD, the TNS SJP organization claimed that the university is invested in 65 funds that have positions in 13 companies including Google, General Electric, Boeing, Hewlett-Packard, Lockheed Martin, Motorola Solutions and the Raytheon Co. among others. That tally was said to be based on an April 26 meeting with The New School’s vice president of business operations Mark Diaz. The other companies that The New School is allegedly tied to are Axa, Caterpillar Inc., Cemex, the Chevron Co., Elbit Systems Ltd. and Northrop Grumman Corp.

Shalala said that protesters had been blocking the entrance to Kerrey Hall, which houses 600 students, since Thursday in order to “force the university to agree to divest from companies in our endowment linked to Israel. After many hours of negotiation and pleading to allow their fellow students to enter their residence hall, the protesters would not budge.”

Shalala said, “We have been very patient, including allowing an encampment in the University Center (UC) so long as students, faculty, and staff had access to their classrooms, offices, library, and cafeteria.”

The New York Police Department’s deputy commissioner Kaz Daughtry posted on X (formerly Twitter) Friday morning that The New School requested NYPD’s assistance “to disperse the illegal encampment inside the university center building and residence hall. As per their request, we are on site and our officers will be assisting with unparalleled professionalism.”

Daughtry also posted video of dozens of police officers outside of The New School’s Fifth Avenue building Friday morning.

Daughtry also posted an image of a document on The New School ‘s letterhead that referenced how students and individuals from outside of the university community were trespassing in the school’s lobby and the Kerrey Hall residence hall  and were “intentionally impeding entrance.” The document, which was addressed to Daughtry, also noted that they were in violation of university rules and policies and that they must disperse. Although the sender’s signature was cropped out of the post, they referred to the “imminent danger” that the situation was causing and called upon the NYPD for help.

In her memo, Shalala said that “an agreement” had been reached per a vote with the [protesting] students to move their demonstration to the UC Event Cafe space in exchange for a meeting with the executive vice president for business and operations [Mark Diaz] followed by representatives of the board of trustees investment committee to make their case for divestment. “Within 24 hours, the students violated that agreement, once again setting up tents in the lobby,” Shalala claimed. 

She also suggested that the university had tried to reach a resolution another time and was “close to an agreement. But instead, the protesters escalated the situation, forcibly entering and setting up a second encampment in the Parsons 2 West 13th Street lobby.” Shalala claimed that a third offer of a meeting with representatives from the school’s investment committee was declined by the students “even though we provided a confirmed date this month for the Investment Committee to consider a vote on disinvestment.”

The protesters’ statement claimed that by ordering ”these arrests, The New School has grossly failed to live up to its legacy as an institution of social justice and anti-militarism. The Gaza Solidarity Encampments at The New School were founded on the demand for divestment, in a protest aligned with over 120 campus encampments nationwide, calling for Palestinian freedom, an end to genocide.” 

After the encampment was cleared, TNS SJP claimed that all academic buildings were closed, with some being “trapped” inside, while other faculty, staff and students are locked out. 

All academic buildings at The New School were to remain closed Friday and academic classes were to be conducted online, The New School spokesperson said. The academic buildings were scheduled to reopen Saturday.

Daughtry’s detailed post magnifies the point that police enforcement was called in only after The New School requested assistance — as has been the case with numerous others schools and universities, but is a point that is not always widely covered by the media.

While protests and in some instances, encampments, have consisted of large groups at major schools like UCLA, USC, Harvard University, the University of Texas at Austin, Northeastern University and MIT, smaller groups have rallied at schools with smaller student bodies such as The New School and the Fashion Institute of Technology. As of Thursday night, a small outdoor encampment of student protesters remained at FIT, according to a school spokeswoman.