A demonstration against antisemitism at Cooper Union in New York City turned ugly last week after a group of pro-Hamas demonstrators interrupted the event while a group of Jewish students studying in the library reported feeling threatened, CBS News reported.
Video footage on social media reportedly showed the Jewish students “barricaded” in the library behind a locked door while pro-Hamas students stood outside holding signs and chanting.
However, in a press conference Thursday morning, an NYPD official insisted that the Jewish students weren’t barricaded in the library.
The incident at the library followed a pro-Israel demonstration at Cooper Plaza earlier on Wednesday that was crashed by students who called on the school to support the Palestinians.
According to a representative from Cooper Union, the library was briefly closed for about 20 minutes late Wednesday afternoon and the students chose to stay there until the protest was over.
According to the NYPD office, officers were present during the demonstration “from start to finish.” He said while there were demonstrators banging on the library doors, after about ten minutes, the demonstrators left.
One parent whose son remained in the library told CBS News that she has been asking school officials for weeks to protect Jewish students on campus, but nothing has been done.
Another parent whose daughter got caught up in last Wednesday’s fracas told CBS News that her daughter is afraid to be on campus.
The parents have retained a lawyer and are seeking to have criminal charges brought.
Meanwhile, New York City councilwoman Inna Vernikov, a Republican from Brooklyn, has called for the resignation of Cooper Union President Laura Sparks.
NYPD Chief of Patrol John Chell said after a “full discussion” with Cooper Union officials on Wednesday night, the NYPD increased its uniform presence outside of the school.
NYPD officials said they are working to ensure the safety of students at other New York City college campuses.