Mayor Commends NYPD’s Success in Maintaining Safety at Columbia University

By: Shenal Tissera

Prior to the police clearing and arresting pro-Palestinian protesters at Columbia University Tuesday night, New York City Mayor Eric Adams reiterated his support for Columbia University officials, noting the NYPD was doing a good job with sweeps and that he will not call in the National Guard for help.

The mayor spoke at his regular Tuesday press briefing at City Hall, which occurred before the arrests at the Ivy League school. The police also cleared the campus at City College, part of the City University of New York on Tuesday night.

On Monday, student protesters at Columbia University occupied Hamilton Hall, a school building, and renamed it ‘Hinds Hall’ after Hind Rajab, a six-year-old Palestinian girl who was killed, along with her family and EMT workers who responded to the scene, by the Israeli Defense Forces.

This was in response to the school’s continued refusal to meet their demands and divest from Israel. The country has killed more than 34,000 people and has injured 77,000 more in Gaza since October 7, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health. More than 13,000 children have been killed, according to UNICEF.

Adams stated officials from Columbia University had been in communication with the city hourly regarding the situation on campus.

“We’re going to respect their right to determine when they want police involvement,” said Adams. “When they ask us, we’re going to carry out the necessary exercises with a minimum amount of force to not in any way harm faculty or students or law enforcement personnel.”

Adams gave assurances the National Guard would not be called in for the time being.

“We don’t need the National Guard. The NYPD is doing an amazing job in the right balance that is needed,” said Adams. “If there’s a need for additional resources, we know how to pick up and request them.”

Hamilton Hall has been occupied several times by student protestors in the past, notably in 1968 in protest of the Vietnam War and in 1985 to call for the school to divest from South Africa which was under apartheid rule at the time.

In other city news, the mayor kicked off the City of Yes for Housing Opportunity, a proposal that looks to address the current affordable housing crisis in the city through zoning changes to spur new housing construction.

“A little bit of housing built throughout the entire city. It has to happen. It is so important,” said Adams.

The net rental vacancy rate in the city is at 1.41% and is even lower for units renting for less than $1,100 at 0.39%. The majority of New Yorkers are rent burdened, spending 30% or more of their income on rent.

“It’s a city-wide effort of saying, ‘Yes in my backyard, yes on my block, yes in my community.’ We can’t just chant, ‘Housing is a right.’ We have to participate in it,” said Adams. “This is our city, and it must be a city-wide initiative. That’s how we’re going to make our city more livable.”

All 59 community boards and the five borough presidents will simultaneously review the City of Yes initiative. They will have two months to provide input and suggest changes. Afterwards, a binding vote will be held by the City Planning Commission where it will then go before the City Council.

Meanwhile, The People’s Money, a citywide participatory budgeting program, launched so that New Yorkers can help determine how to spend $3.5 million of the city’s budget to address local community needs.

All city residents aged 11 and up, regardless of immigration status, can vote on projects across the city. Projects funded by the program last year included job training, violence prevention and community gardens. Voting ends on June 12.

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