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District Attorney’s Office Dismisses Cases Against Columbia Protesters

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has dropped criminal charges against 31 people, including students and faculty members, among the protesters in antiwar demonstrations at Columbia University.

Hamilton HallHamilton HallColumbia UniversityThe defendants appeared June 20 at the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse, where a prosecutor acknowledged the district attorney’s office lacked evidence to sufficiently prove cases against them. The prosecutor also noted the defendants had no criminal histories but would face internal disciplinary proceedings at the university.

Other defendants with pending charges are expected to appear in court July 25. They are accused of being among the 46 protesters arrested, following their occupation of Hamilton Hall on campus April 30.

Tensions on campus have been high since the Hamas attack Oct. 7, 2023, and the subsequent warfare that continues in the Middle East.

In May, members of Columbia’s faculty lodged a vote of no-confidence for its president, Dr. Minouche Shafik. expressing concern with the university’s response to April’s antiwar demonstrations and its use of law enforcement on campus.

Shafik’s response following the arrests characterized demonstrations as a “wave of protests, encampments, and building takeovers.”

“Whatever one thinks of the response of university leaders — denouncing hurtful rhetoric, enforcing rules and discipline, and summoning police to restore order — these are actions, not solutions,” wrote a May 9 opinion piece.

“Rather than tearing ourselves apart, universities must rebuild the bonds within ourselves and between society and the academy based on our shared values and on what we do best: education, research, service and public engagement," she said. "If academic communities cannot serve as a place of civil debate, what hope is there for those in the midst of war? Universities must heal themselves in order to better contribute to healing the world.”

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