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White House: Takeover of Columbia University building 'absolutely the wrong approach'

The White House condemned the move by student protesters to take over a building on Columbia University’s campus Tuesday, calling it the wrong approach amid the ongoing college demonstrations across the country against Israel’s handling of its war in Gaza.

Pro-Palestinian protesters at the New York City college took control of an academic building early Tuesday, barricading entrances and flying a Palestinian flag outside the window. 

“The president believes that forcibly taking over a building on campus is absolutely the wrong approach, that is not an example of peaceful protests,” White House national security communications adviser John Kirby told reporters.

“Hate speech and hate symbols also have no place in this country. A small percentage of students shouldn’t be able to disrupt the academic experience, the legitimate study, for the rest of the student body,” Kirby added.

The protesters who took over the building locked arms in front of it and took furniture and metal barricades into the hall. The same building was occupied in a 1968 civil rights and anti-Vietnam War protest.

Kirby reiterated the disrupting education for other students on campus is “unacceptable.”

“You can’t be disrupting the educational pursuit of your fellow students. They have a right to go to school and they have a right to do so safely. They have a right to get an education,” he said. “Taking over a building by force is unacceptable.”

When asked about President Biden’s thoughts on sending in the National Guard to deal with the protests on college campuses, which is an idea that some Republicans have suggested, Kirby said there is no active effort to federalize the guard.

The White House punted on questions about the National Guard last week, arguing dealing with the protests is up to local leaders.

Biden and the White House has consistently condemned antisemitic and hate-filled rhetoric from the protests on campuses, while maintaining that Americans have the right to peacefully protest.

Source: The Hill

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