By: Tony Kinnett, The Daily Signal
Jewish students at Cooper Union, a private New York City college, were locked inside a library Wednesday as pro-Palestine and pro-Hamas protesters beat their fists on the doors, screamed, and tried to gain entry.
New York police, however, told The Daily Signal that officers didn’t intervene because “no threats of physical violence were made.”
Videos shot by terrified students trapped in the library initially were shared first on social media Wednesday afternoon by Jake Novak, former media director at the Israeli Consulate in New York.
Novak reported that the New York Police Department was called “as soon as the protesters stormed the main Cooper Union building, but [officers] did nothing.”
New York City Council member Inna Vernikov, a Republican who was born in Ukraine, said Thursday morning that she had spoken by that time with four Jewish students, three of whom were barricaded in the library. No one was arrested in the incident on the Manhattan campus, Vernikov said.
The NYPD responded in writing Thursday morning to a request for comment from The Daily Signal, saying that “no threats of physical violence were made.” The statement from police said:
Community Affairs Officers were present while the demonstration took place inside. The school staff allowed the demonstration to take place. The students dispersed after the incident. No property damage was reported, no criminal reports were filed and no threats of physical violence were made. Additionally there were no injuries reported.
Novak said Cooper Union librarians “bolted the doors” to prevent pro-Palestine and pro-Hamas protesters from entering the library, then told “identifiable” Jewish students to “hide in the attic if they wanted to.”
On social media, this decision drew sharp criticism and comparisons to Anne Frank hiding from the Nazis and other Holocaust situations during World War II.
Both Novak and Vernikov said an unidentified dean at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art had said he “could not stop” the pro-Hamas protest “because it was not slated to enter school property.”
The protesters, however, stormed campus buildings shortly after the protest began.
Vernikov said Cooper Union faculty members not only canceled class to accommodate a walkout for the protest, but “encouraged students to participate and even offered extra credit” for participating. She also noted that faculty members joined the protest.
The Daily Signal sought comment from Cooper Union, including information on which classes were canceled and which faculty members encouraged students to participate. College officials didn’t respond by publication time.
The Jewish students barricaded in the Cooper Union library were evacuated through tunnels Wednesday evening, while the university and police left the protesters alone, Vernikov and others said.
Campuses across America recently have been home to pro-Hamas rallies following the terrorist group’s Oct. 7 surprise attacks in southern Israel that killed 1,400 civilians, including women and children, and took about 200 hostages. Israel declared war on Hamas and began air assaults on the Gaza Strip, which the neighboring Jewish state had allowed Hamas to govern despite past armed conflicts.
Vernikov reported Thursday morning that Jewish students at Cooper Union were staying home for fear of safety, and some are dropping classes. Three students who were barricaded in the library told her that they “will never walk in there feeling alright again,” Vernikov said.
This isn’t the first time Cooper Union has been wrapped in controversy over radical politics.
In September, Cooper Union hired a professor who only months earlier threatened to “chop” a New York Post reporter with a machete. Shellyne Rodriguez, a leftist professor who also was caught on video cursing at pro-life protesters and damaging the property of pro-life activists, was fired from her job as an adjunct professor of visual arts at Hunter College. She now teaches a sculpture course at Cooper Union.
Ken McIntyre contributed to this report. This is a developing story and will be updated.