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This Illustrates How Power Safeguards Itself

Columbia University Protests (Credits: Middle East Online)

Columbia University found itself thrust into the global spotlight when students launched a Gaza Solidarity Encampment last month.

However, on Tuesday night, Columbia President Minouche Shafik seemingly decided that the protests had reached a tipping point and called in the New York Police Department (NYPD) to quell the demonstrations and prevent any further encampments on the West Lawn.

The NYPD swiftly complied, forcibly entering Hamilton Hall, where protesters had gathered, and forcefully clearing the building, resulting in numerous arrests.

President Minouche Shafik (Credits: The New York Times)

A similar scene exposed at the City College of New York, where police cracked down on another student encampment and occupation, arresting scores of protesters before hoisting the American flag once the campus had been cleared.

New York City Council member Chi Ossé aptly summarized the events, decrying the militarized police force’s actions, funded by NYC taxpayers, against American students in the name of a foreign country perpetrating a genocide.

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, police stood idly by as a group of Israel supporters attacked pro-Palestinian demonstrators at UCLA, using mace and fireworks. At the University of South Florida, police resorted to pepper spray against students.

Simultaneously, Israel continued its airstrikes on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

This coercive campaign aimed to suppress a burgeoning student movement that had captured global attention with its courage. It sought to quash the threat posed by the pro-Palestine movement to the status quo and send a clear message to university stakeholders and policymakers about where their allegiances should lie.

Above all, it was a stark reminder to these students—who dared to occupy tents—of who holds the reins of power. Their sin was believing they had the right to influence events at their schools or, heaven forbid, on the world stage. The violence and repression underscored a single question: How dare you?

Yet, the powers that be are undeniably rattled. They fear the growing momentum of the Palestine solidarity movement—its scale, moral conviction, diversity, and compassion.

Columbia University Protests (Credits: The Hindu)

They fear that unwavering support for Israel, a cornerstone of the American system, is being shaken. Administrators and politicians are in a panic, confronted with a challenge to the unquestionable sanctity of Zionism and the complicity in Israel’s crimes against humanity. But the uprising persists, with new encampments sprouting daily.

Despite the horrors of the past seven months, the movement for Palestinian liberation has never been stronger. People are sacrificing their futures and risking their lives for Palestine in unprecedented numbers. A collective awakening is underway, signaling an irreversible shift from the status quo.

So, when confronted with the question, “How dare you?”—students and activists fighting for Palestinian liberation know the answer. They dare because that’s how the world changes. And no amount of police repression can halt the tide of change.

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