LOWER MANHATTAN (PIX11) — Jewish students across New York City are pushing back against what they view as pro-Palestinian protests that have made them feel unsafe.
The situation came to a head Wednesday when Jewish students were forced to shelter in place inside the library as pro-Palestinian protesters banged on the doors and windows.
On Thursday, a pro-Palestinian protester interrupted a rally of Jewish advocates and parents outside the small private college of Cooper Union, where the library lockdown happened. About 20 pro-Palestinian student protesters banged on the doors and windows during the incident Wednesday.
“She is frightened,” said the mother of one of the students in the library. “She is afraid to be on this campus.”
The NYPD is downplaying the incident. John Chell, the NYPD’s chief of patrol, said the ordeal lasted 10 minutes, the door of the library was closed but never locked, and campus security and plain-clothed officers were on scene the entire time.
There was also a back door to the library where students could have left.
“There was no direct threat,” said Chell. “There was no damage. There was no danger to any students in that school.”
Chell said moving forward officers responding to school incidents will likely be in uniform or other attire that makes clear they are sworn officers.
“Obviously, there’s a disconnect between what the police saying what the students experienced, that requires inquiry,” said Gerard Filitti, an attorney for some of the Jewish students involved.
At neighboring NYU, an even larger rally unfolded Thursday. Prominent politicians and student organizers said recent pro-Palestinian protests have shown support for the militant group Hamas and have called for the elimination of Israel.
“Students standing up and saying they are Jewish should not be put in a box and made to feel unsafe,” said NYU rally organizer Omer Hit. “We want to make sure we are proud and united and that’s what we are seeing here at NYU.”
“I am deeply concerned about the trauma Jewish students are experiencing here on campus in the city and globally,” said Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine.