Students and city residents protested a Columbia University College Republicans event tonight featuring alt-right leader and Pizzagate conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich, culminating in the alleged arrest of a student protester. This event follows a similar talk by Tommy Robinson, which was met with protests for which several students are now facing disciplinary action.
Hosted by a group called the Liberation Coalition, protesters gathered at 124th and Morningside Avenue, and began marching down Amsterdam towards Columbia at 7:30 pm. To the beat of a drum, the group of protesters engaged in chants such as “Hey Columbia, don’t you know? White supremacy’s got to go,” “No justice, no peace, fuck these racist ass police,” and “Punch a Nazi in the face, every nation, every race.” As they marched, a few local Morningside Heights residents passing by joined in these chants.
As part of its free speech month, CUCR had invited Cernovich to talk about “The Rise of Alternative Media.” In his speech in the Lerner Party Space, Cernovich mostly discussed misreporting and conflicts of interests among reporters for such outlets as CNN and the New York Times and how the “fake news media” is anxious over the rise of alternative media figures such as himself. He also took questions, both from CUCR members and other guests, about his previous statements on women, claims about diversity, and other topics of interest.
After reaching Lerner Hall, the protesters were not allowed into the building itself. The protesters instead chanted in the lobby of Lerner for the rest of the protest. In fact, between 8 to 11 pm, Public Safety and NYPD officers barred every Columbia student, whether affiliated with the protests or not, from entering Lerner Hall, unless he or she was a registered attendee of the CUCR event. Students already inside Lerner at the time of the event were barred from entering the Party Space as well; elevators were locked on upper floors, and guards were stationed in stairwells so that only custodial workers and cafeteria staff would have access to the lowest levels of Lerner. Administration had not previously notified students of tonight’s obstructions of Lerner spaces.
Furthermore, according to multiple eyewitness accounts and an attendee of the event itself, one protester was body-slammed and arrested by NYPD and Public Safety at the corner of Lerner Hall and Broadway. The protester, who is believed to be a student, had allegedly taken the phone of a pro-Trump supporter outside of Lerner Hall and ran, before being taken into custody by the police. Witnesses, claiming that they had video of the event and the names of officers, also believe that the arrested protester is currently held at the 26th precinct.
Photos taken by Aliya Schneider