Columbia University
Columbia UniversityiStock

More than 100 people were arrested by New York Police Department officers on a preliminary charge of criminal trespass, as police entered Columbia University on Thursday to disperse a pro-Palestinian Arab protest that began a day earlier, CNN reported.

The individuals were detained with no resistance, and the university is named as the complainant since the incident occurred on its property, a law enforcement official told CNN.

The arrests come one day after clashes erupted at competing rallies of pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian Arab groups on Columbia’s campus.

Several people waving Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) flags had verbal confrontations with police officers, who had begun boxing the protesters in with barricades, CNN affiliate WCBS reported.

In video from the demonstration, pro-Palestinian protesters could be seen clashing with police and some had lit small fires. One woman could be seen being led away in handcuffs.

Four people were arrested overnight during protests at Columbia, the NYPD said. Police did not specify what charges were filed and gave no additional details about the arrests.

Columbia University has seen an uptick in antisemitic incidents since Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel and the war in Gaza which followed.

In February, antisemitic flyers showing a skunk emblazoned with the Israeli flag were posted on the campus of Columbia University.

A week before that, Israeli firearms model Orin Julie and fashion model Natali Dadon were accosted at the University of Columbia by one of the central figures of the anti-Israel protests on campus.

Amid the antisemitism on campus, Columbia University's administration shut down a December discussion by the pro-Palestinian Arab student group "Columbia Social Workers 4 Palestine" after it was discovered that the discussion aimed to justify Hamas' October 7 massacre of Israeli civilians.

Wednesday’s protests took place as Columbia President Nemat “Minouche” Shafik was in Washington, DC, testifying to the House Education Committee about antisemitism on campus.

Shafik refused to condemn the phrase "from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free" as antisemitic during the hearing, or to say that it violates university policy. Instead, she called the chant "hurtful" and said that she would rather not hear it uttered on campus.

On Thursday, according to CNN, Shafik wrote a letter to the NYPD asking for the department’s help to “remove these individuals.”

“The actions of these individuals are in violation of University rules and policies,” the president wrote. “The University provided multiple notices and warnings and informed the encampment participants that they must disperse or face immediate discipline.”

The president told students she authorized the NYPD to break up the encampment, according to an email obtained by CNN. Shafik wrote she authorized the move “out of an abundance of concern for the safety of Columbia’s campus.”

“I took this extraordinary step because these are extraordinary circumstances,” Shafik wrote. “The individuals who established the encampment violated a long list of rules and policies.”