NEW YORK — Jewish students at Cooper Union college who say they were locked in the campus library during a pro-Palestinian protest were expected to demand the arrests of those who allegedly threatened them as criticism of the university’s response mounted Thursday.
The group told reporters at news outlets it took 40 minutes for police to respond to the protesters. A rally was scheduled for Thursday afternoon outside the East Village college to demand the arrests.
Videos widely shared on social media show student protesters banging on a reportedly locked door, as at least four students — some wearing traditional Jewish yarmulkes — sheltered inside.
“We were aware of the protests,” said NYPD Chief of Patrol John Chell at a press conference Thursday. “School officials asked us to be there from start to finish.”
The department disputed that doors were locked and described the protest as orderly, despite videos on social media that suggest students felt threatened. Police said they were present in plain clothes.
“The doors were not barricaded,” Chell said. “The doors were closed. School administrators agreed to close the doors.”
The college did not return a request for comment from the Daily News on Thursday morning about its response to the incident.
“It’s absolutely appalling that Jewish students were intimidated and harassed this way,” Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “What is Cooper Union doing about this??”
Roughly 90 students participated in the protest in total, with the vast majority were there to support Palestine, police said. The pro-Palestinian protesters chanted as fewer than two dozen students supporting Israel remain silent, according to the account.
About 20 of the students entered the school, remaining inside for nearly half an hour, before moving to the library.
“They were supposed to swipe in, but they kind of rushed past the swipe in (area),” Chell said. “They went to the president’s office. They got inside the office and waiting area and they were chanting. The police on the scene and private security allowed the students to do that for about a half hour.”
“School staffers heard them come down and made the decision to close the library doors,” Chell said. “They left the protesters in there for about 10 minutes. They were banging on the doors and transparent windows to bring attention to themselves.”
No students were hurt or arrested, nor was any property damage reported. Students dispersed after the incident, cops said.
There have been roughly 70,000 participants in more than 100 protests over the war in Israel over the last few weeks, police said. More than 230 of them have been arrested.