New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Students and faculty set up pro-Palestinian encampment at Gould Plaza

The demonstration follows similar encampments at Columbia University and Yale University, where student protesters have been arrested.
Lianna O’Grady
(Lianna O’Grady for WSN)

This is a developing story, check back for updates.

Update, 3:50 a.m., April 23

Arrested protesters are being released from NYPD headquarters downtown in groups of two to five. A spokesperson for the NYPD said police do not yet have a final count of how many arrests occurred at Gould Plaza Monday evening.

Update, 10:10 p.m.

After a protester was arrested at the intersection of LaGuardia Place and Third Street, the two police officers who apprehended them were approached by a group of protesters. The police appeared to use pepper spray on those nearby, including a legal observer and protesters who were trying to force the officers to release the arrested individual. The officers then made their way to the Global Center for Academic and Spiritual Life, which was locked, followed by the protesters. Police then went to the Kimmel Center for University Life, where they were let in by Campus Safety officers. Protesters were not allowed inside Kimmel, and were banging on the building’s doors.

Update, 9:30 p.m.

All visible protesters have either dispersed or been arrested and New York City Police Department buses have left the scene. A small group of protesters is demonstrating outside Gould Plaza in front of a line of over 50 police officers occupying the plaza’s staircase.

Update, 9 p.m.

National Lawyers Guild legal observers are taking down the names of arrested protesters. New York City Police Department officers are escorting those arrested to correctional buses. All visible protesters who were in Gould Plaza have been arrested and are in zip ties.

(Matt Petres for WSN)

Update, 8:56 p.m.

The New York City Police Department is saying that all protesters are being arrested for “disorderly conduct” over a megaphone announcement. Police are also saying protesters are unlawfully blocking traffic.

Update, 8:48 p.m.

New York City Police Department officers in riot gear are standing in a line in front of Gould Plaza, keeping protesters out of the area. The tents in the encampment have been completely removed. Around 30 protesters remain in the plaza, with some sitting in a circle and some who have been arrested waiting in zip ties.

Update, 8:42 p.m.

Remaining protesters are forming a circle around the tents set up in Gould Plaza, linking their arms together. The New York City Police Department is taking down tents in the encampment and putting chairs in the area in a pile. Campus Safety head Fountain Walker declined to comment when asked who ordered the arrests.

Update, 8:33 p.m.

New York City Police Department officers in riot gear are arresting dozens of student and faculty protesters at the encampment, putting them in zip ties. NYPD officers are escorting those arrested out of Gould Plaza.

(Matt Petres for WSN)

Update, 8:26 p.m.

The protesters outside Gould Plaza are entering the encampment, with many appearing to be praying. New York City Police Department Officers are ordering protesters to disperse over a megaphone message, telling them they will be arrested for trespass. Police officers are in riot gear, lined up at the back of Gould Plaza.

Update, 8:17 p.m.

Access to Bobst Library appears to have been restored. Paper “closed” signs and metal u-bars holding the doors closed have been removed.

Update, 8:08 p.m.

Campus Safety officers have closed all access to Bobst Library, except for students whose belongings remain inside. Officers are allowing those already inside to exit the building, and have added “closed” signs on the library’s doors.

Update, 7:51 p.m.

Around five National Lawyers Guild legal observers — who serve to document police conduct and arrests at protests — are standing near the encampment on Greene Street. Police vehicles have entered Greene Street, next to Gould Plaza, with sirens on. Five large New York City Police Department buses are in the area.

Update, 6:57 p.m.

More than a dozen New York City Police Department vehicles are stationed on Washington Place and Washington Square East, near Gould Plaza. Only students accompanied by faculty are being allowed into the encampment by Campus Safety officers.

(Krish Dev for WSN)

Update, 6:30 p.m.

Hundreds of protesters are supporting the encampment from outside. They are standing on both sides of the street on West Fourth Street. The smaller group of pro-Israeli counterprotesters appears to have left the area.

Update, 6:15 p.m.

Student and faculty protesters are now giving speeches to the crowd at the encampment. 

“Based on Columbia’s recent horrific use of the NYPD to criminalize and harass students on their own campus — and the widespread backlash from students, faculty and staff — we advise NYU administration to adhere to their own Memorandum of Understanding with the NYPD,” an unidentified Faculty for Justice in Palestine member said to protesters at the encampment. 

A student protester who spoke at the event told other demonstrators to email NYU president Linda Mills to tell her that they will remain at Gould Plaza until their demands are heard. 

“There’s a genocide happening to Palestinians by the Israeli occupation and NYU is complicit,” the student said. “We refuse to be complicit — we are staying.”

CAS professor Rebecca Karl told protesters that she and a group of other Jewish faculty sent NYU a letter asking that it “discontinue its practice of relying on specious charges of antisemitism” when it comes to student conduct decisions.

“We reject outright the administration’s insistence that criticism of Israeli state policy is inherently antisemitic, and so constitutes discrimination,” Karl said.

Update, 5:06 p.m.

Around five large New York City Police Department vans have arrived at the intersection between Washington Place and Washington Square East, and more than 15 NYPD officers were seen walking toward Gould Plaza.

Update, 4:13 p.m.

A New York City Police Department truck came by Gould Plaza at about 4 p.m., carrying metal barricades. The truck was stopped on the side of the road for a few minutes but then left, leading protesters to begin clapping and praying on the plaza. Two unidentified helicopters are currently flying above the encampment.

Update, 3:56 p.m.

Campus Safety officers told WSN that only protesters who had been at the encampment since it began Monday morning were being let in and out.

Update, 3:20 p.m.

Campus Safety head Fountain Walker told protesters that if they did not leave the encampment by 4 p.m., they would face consequences. The university said the announcement came after “a breach in the barriers set up at Gould Plaza,” in an Instagram post. The protest went from dozens to hundreds of demonstrators since it began early this morning.

At around 2 p.m., a small group of protesters entered the encampment without Campus Safety interference. Prior to that, a pro-Israeli counterprotester briefly entered the encampment before being escorted out by Campus Safety officers.

“With the breach of the barricades early this afternoon, that requirement was violated, and we witnessed disorderly, disruptive and antagonizing behavior that has interfered with the safety and security of our community,” Walker said to the crowd at the encampment. “If you leave now, no one will face any consequences for today’s actions — no discipline, no police.”

A man with a megaphone address a large crowd.
(Matt Petres for WSN)

12:59 p.m.

Hundreds of students set up a “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” in Gould Plaza at around 6 a.m. Monday, following hundreds of student protesters at Columbia University and other schools across the country that have gained national attention. 

Demonstrators, who are calling for NYU to divest from companies with ties to Israel and close its Tel Aviv site, set up small green, white and blue tents on the plaza, chanting and using noisemakers throughout the morning. Six New York City Police Department officers were seen near the plaza, directing traffic away from the protest. A group of around 20 pro-Israeli counterprotesters stood across the plaza, chanting and holding Israeli flags. 

(Jason Alpert-Wisnia for WSN)

The encampment was organized by the newly formed on-campus group, the NYU Palestine Solidarity Coalition, which includes students and faculty from Students for Justice in Palestine, Faculty for Justice in Palestine, Law Students for Justice in Palestine, Shut it Down NYU, Jews Against Zionism and more than 20 other on-campus groups, according to a Monday press release. Currently, only NYU student protesters are being allowed into the encampment.

“We are in solidarity with our comrades at Columbia, who have demonstrated the principled action we all must take nationwide,” the press release reads. “Inspired by our peers, we take action in solidarity with Gaza and call on NYU to divest from and fully boycott Israel and all the entities that profit from Israeli apartheid, genocide and occupation. We encourage all those invested in collective liberation and the liberation of Palestine to stand in solidarity and take action across the city.” 

Access to Gould Plaza has been closed off, but classes are continuing as usual, NYU spokesperson John Beckman told WSN. Beckman said the university is “addressing this issue with urgency.”

“This morning, some 50 protesters began a demonstration on the plaza in front of the business school. This occurred without notice to the university,” Beckman wrote in a statement. “The university is committed to minimizing disruption to its academic mission; preventing escalation and violence; and precluding hate speech, harassment, or threats directed at any member of the NYU community.”

(Manasa Gudavalli for WSN)

On Thursday, Columbia’s administration authorized the NYPD to sweep its version of the encampment, leading to the arrest of more than 100 protesters. At Yale University, over 45 protesters were arrested at a pro-Palestinian encampment early this morning.

Protests have continued on Columbia’s campus, with students calling for the university to divest from companies connected to Israel, remove NYPD presence from campus and unsuspend the protesters involved in the original encampment demonstration. Several community organizations have also joined the Columbia protests from outside the campus’ gates.

“It’s incumbent upon everyone in the world to speak up when terrible, awful atrocities are happening and being perpetuated,” David Klassen, a City University of New York professor who was standing outside the encampment, told WSN. “That’s especially true when it’s in our name, on our behalf, with our tax dollars, with our diplomatic backing, with our weapons, we have the responsibility to do anything at all possible to stop what’s happening.” 

(Krish Dev for WSN)

The protests have come under national scrutiny, with President Joe Biden referring to “blatant antisemitism” and “calls for violence against Jews” on college campuses in a Sunday statement on Passover. At Columbia, a group of pro-Israeli student counterprotesters was allegedly assaulted and later told to “Go back to Poland, go back to Belarus” by a group of pro-Palestinian protesters. 

At NYU, the administration has faced backlash for repeatedly emphasizing its disciplinary action policies since the start of the war in Gaza, with 90 student conduct cases under review in November and an additional 70 by March. Earlier this semester, two professors were suspended following criticism of media coverage of Hamas and posts related to Israel’s ongoing siege in Gaza. The university also suspended a first-year student in December for taking down posters of Israeli hostages outside Gould Plaza. The student is now suing NYU for allegedly misapplying its conduct policies to her case.

More recently, NYU’s Student Government Assembly passed a resolution to reopen the Grand Staircase at the Kimmel Center for University Life after the university closed the stairs on Oct. 12 due to “the level of protest activity” near campus. NYU has since reopened a section of the stairs. Another SGA resolution on protecting pro-Palestinian speech on campus has been delayed by administrators, with NYU SJP having claimed the administration “killed” the resolution yesterday evening.

“I saw everything at Columbia and I was really proud people set it up here,” a student protester, who requested to remain anonymous, said. “I hope they listen — shutting down the Kimmel stairs and saying they allow free speech is really hypocritical.”

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Alex Tey, Matt Petres, Manasa Gudavalli and Krish Dev contributed reporting.

Contact Adrianna Nehme, Dharma Niles, Carmo Moniz, Mariapaula Gonzalez and Yezen Saadah at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Adrianna Nehme
Adrianna Nehme, News Editor
Adrianna Nehme is a sophomore still trying to decide what to major in. Originally from a small town in Indiana, she moved to Chicago, Illinois for high school — where she was also the news editor for the school paper! She loves experiencing music live at concerts, seeking restaurants to try in the city and reading fiction novels — her all-time favorite is "The Cider House Rules" by John Irving. Check out her latest adventures on Instagram @adrianna.nehme.
Carmo Moniz
Carmo Moniz, Managing Editor
Carmo Moniz is a junior studying journalism and politics. She enjoys covering city news and dabbling in data journalism, and aspires to one day join the journalism-to-law-school pipeline. When she's not in classes or at the Washington Square News, you can find her looking for a movie to watch or embarking on random art projects. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @carmo_moniz or send tips at [email protected].
Yezen Saadah
Yezen Saadah, Editor-in-Chief
Yezen Saadah is a junior studying cinema studies, journalism and Middle Eastern studies. He's a lover of cinema, history, art and literature, and he enjoys writing about pretty much anything. If he isn't in the newsroom or at the movies, he's probably just trying to enjoy his day off. Contact him on Instagram @yezen.saadah or send tips to [email protected]
Dharma Niles
Dharma Niles, Deputy News Editor
Dharma Niles is a first-year student currently studying journalism and politics at CAS, and has yet to choose between the six different minors she'd also like to pursue. You can generally find her playing NYT games, skittering around the city with a Celsius in hand or on Instagram @dharmaniles.
Jason Alpert-Wisnia
Jason Alpert-Wisnia, Editor-at-Large
Jason Alpert-Wisnia is a junior majoring in Photography and Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts, primarily focused on photojournalism and documentary photography. His photography ranges from coverage of professional sports, to political protests and music festivals. When he is not pounding the pavement with a camera in his hands looking for the next story, you are likely to find Jason in a used bookstore looking for rare finds or in the park reading. You can find him on Instagram @jasonalpertwisnia and contact him at [email protected].
Manasa Gudavalli
Manasa Gudavalli, Editor-in-Chief
Manasa Gudavalli is a super senior studying a super strange combination of psychology, mathematics, journalism, and chemistry. When they are not editing the Washington Square News, they are probably reading Freud, watching college football, or developing film photos. You can find them on Instagram @manasa.gudavalli and
Krish Dev
Krish Dev, Multimedia Editor
Krish is a first-year planning to major in Computer Science and Linguistics at CAS. In his free time, he enjoys posting photos on @krish_dev.creations, obsessing over geography, watching new films with friends, taking public transport to new places and letting Arsenal make or break his week.
Matt Petres
Matt Petres, Photo Editor
Matt Petres is a first-year studying Economics. He is from Chicago, Illinois and likes to bike and kayak. You can contact him on Instagram @matt.petres

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  • S

    Steve AlbertApr 22, 2024 at 10:55 pm

    Totally righteous, stand with your brothers and sisters at Columbia

  • N

    Neal ResnikoffApr 22, 2024 at 2:54 pm

    Great work! Solidarity from Chicago! Neal Resnikoff (NYU alum 1957)