Kathy Hochul Gives National Guard Update Amid Pressure on Columbia Protests

New York Governor Kathy Hochul responded to calls to deploy the National Guard this week amid ongoing pro-Palestinian protests at Columbia University.

Hochul told reporters on Tuesday evening that she currently has no plans to deploy the National Guard to the school and praised officials with the New York Police Department (NYPD) for their efforts to respond to the protests, City & State New York reported.

Newsweek reached out to Hochul’s office via email for further comment.

Columbia students set up a “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” on campus last week to protest the university’s “continued financial investment in corporations that profit from Israeli apartheid, genocide, and occupation in Palestine.”

Tensions on university campuses have been high over the past six months as Israel continues its war in Gaza, which began after Palestinian militant group Hamas launched an attack on southern Israel on October 7 that left 1,200 people dead and saw over 200 more taken hostage. More than 34,000 Palestinians have died in Gaza since the war began, the Associated Press reported, citing local health officials.

Columbia University
“Gaza Solidarity Encampment” at Columbia University on April 23. New York Governor Kathy Hochul said she does not have plans to deploy the National Guard to the pro-Palestinian protests at Columbia.

Selcuk Acar/Anadolu via Getty Images/Getty Images

On Monday, New York Republican Representative Nicole Malliotakis told Fox News Digital that “there should certainly be NYPD on campus, the governor should be offering [the] National Guard and shutting down these horrific antisemitism events.”

In a post to X, formerly Twitter, on Monday, Republican Senator Tom Cotton said, “The nascent pogroms at Columbia have to stop TODAY, before our Jewish brethren sit for Passover Seder tonight. If Eric Adams won’t send the NYPD and Kathy Hochul won’t send the National Guard, Joe Biden has a duty to take charge and break up these mobs.”

The Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine organization said on X that the university recently threatened students “with the National Guard After Refusing to Bargain in Good Faith.”

“We refuse to concede to cowardly threats and blatant intimidation by university administration. We will continue to peacefully protest,” the organization said.

Columbia previously announced plans for hybrid learning for the remainder of the 2024 spring semester. University President Minouche Shafik said on Tuesday that some school officials have been in contact with student protest organizers “to discuss the basis for dismantling the encampment, dispersing, and following university policies going forward.”

“Those talks are facing a deadline of midnight tonight to reach agreement,” Shafik said. “I very much hope these discussions are successful. If they are not, we will have to consider alternative options for clearing the West Lawn and restoring calm to campus so that students can complete the term and graduate.”

“The right to protest is essential and protected at Columbia, but harassment and discrimination is antithetical to our values and an affront to our commitment to be a community of mutual respect and kindness,” Shafik added.