FACT CHECK: Facebook Video Makes False Claim About Arrests At Columbia Protests

Christine Sellers | Fact Check Reporter

A video shared on Facebook claims the New York Police Department (NYPD) purportedly announced far leftists, not students, were arrested at recent pro-Palestine protests at Columbia University.

Verdict: False

The claim is false. Communications from New York Democratic Mayor Eric Adams’ office indicate both students and non-students were arrested as a result of the protests.

Fact Check:

Over 400 Jewish students at Columbia University recently “signed an open letter” voicing their support for Israel, according to the Times of Israel. The letter also details anti-Semitic harassment the students have faced on campus, the outlet reported.

The Facebook video, shared to the platform by conservative podcast host Tim Pool, claims the NYPD purportedly announced far leftists, not students, were arrested at recent pro-Palestine protests at Columbia University. “NYPD Announce Far Leftists Arrested At Columbia NOT STUDENTS, PAID Leftist Agitators STARTED Riots,” the video’s caption reads. The video has garnered over 600 likes as of writing.

The claim is false, however. A transcript of a May 1 press briefing from Adams’ office indicates police were distinguishing students from non-students following arrests made at Columbia University as well as the City College of New York.

“Approximately 300 people were arrested at Columbia and City College were processing the arrests to distinguish between who were actual students and who were not supposed to be on the ground. We pointed out yesterday, these external actors with a history of escalating situations and trying to create chaos. Not to peacefully protest, but create chaos,” the same transcript reads.

Likewise, a May 2 press release from Adams’ office states 112 people were arrested at an April 30 protest at Columbia University. Out of the 112 arrests, 29% were not students. According to the same release, 170 people were arrested at a protest on the same day at the City College of New York. Out of these 170 arrests, 60% were not students. Thus, the claim made via the Facebook video’s caption that no students were arrested at all is incorrect.

The claim is corroborated by a video report from local news outlet WNBC that indicated 27% of the protestors arrested at both universities “are over the age of 30” and may be faculty or graduate students. A spokesperson for the NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner, Public Information directed Check Your Fact to the video report.

Furthermore, Check Your Fact found no credible news reports to support the claim. Additionally, Lead Stories also reported the claim is false via a May 8 article. (RELATED: Did Protesters At George Washington University Raise The Hamas Flag?)

This is not the first time a false claim about recent pro-Palestine protests occurring at U.S. universities has circulated online. Check Your Fact previously debunked a video that claimed to show the Texas National Guard confronting pro-Palestinian protesters at the University of Texas-Austin.

Christine Sellers

Fact Check Reporter