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Johnson Urges Biden to Attend Columbia Despite Pro-Palestine Demonstrations

Speaker Johnson (Credits: Politico)

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) has called on President Biden to visit Columbia University and witness the pro-Palestine protests firsthand after Johnson and a group of GOP lawmakers visited the campus and denounced the demonstrations.

During a press conference on Tuesday, Johnson urged Biden to see the situation for himself, stating, “Yeah, I do.” He added that he had already contacted senior policy advisors in the White House and encouraged the president to visit the campus.

Johnson and other House Republicans held a press conference at Columbia’s Manhattan campus last week, calling on university President Nemat Shafik to resign due to the pro-Palestine protests, which include an encampment and have taken over the college grounds.

The lawmakers met with Shafik before delivering their remarks, which were met with boos from students. They also urged students to return to class and end the demonstrations.

Speaker Johnson calls on Biden to visit Columbia (Credits: Fox 59)

Johnson previously stated that he planned to call Biden to share his observations and demand action, suggesting that executive authority could be used to address the situation. He also floated the idea of deploying the National Guard to quell the protests, saying that it may be necessary if the situation is not contained quickly.

The demonstrations at Columbia escalated on Tuesday when a group of pro-Palestinian protesters took control of an academic building, barricading entrances and flying a Palestinian flag outside a window.

The White House condemned this development, calling it “absolutely the wrong approach.” White House national security communications adviser John Kirby stated that forcibly taking over a building is not an example of peaceful protest and that hate speech and hate symbols have no place in the country.

President Joe Biden (Credits: ABC17NEWS)

White House spokesperson Andrew Bates reiterated this sentiment when asked about Johnson’s remarks, but did not directly address whether the president would visit Columbia.

He stated that President Biden has always stood against antisemitic smears and violent rhetoric and condemns the use of the term “intifada” and other hate speech displayed in recent days.

He emphasized that while the president respects the right to free expression, protests must be peaceful and lawful, and forcibly taking over buildings is wrong.

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