Letter to NYPD

April 18, 2024

The letter below was sent by President Minouche Shafik to the New York Police Department's deputy commissioner for legal matters on April 18, 2024.

April 18, 2024

Michael Gerber, Deputy Commissioner, Legal Matters
New York City Police Department

Dear Deputy Commissioner Gerber,

I write with regard to the encampment on Columbia University’s campus that began before dawn on the morning of Wednesday April 17, 2024. As discussed, more than 100 individuals are currently occupying the South Lawn of Columbia University’s Morningside Heights campus. This group has been informed numerous times and in writing that they are not permitted to occupy this space, are in violation of the University’s rules and policies and must disperse. All University students participating in the encampment have been informed they are suspended. At this time, the participants in the encampment are not authorized to be on University property and are trespassing.

The actions of these individuals are in violation of University rules and policies, including that they have interfered with the operation of the University, refused to identify themselves, refused to disperse, set up tents on campus space, failed to comply with policies, and damaged campus property. The continued encampment raises safety concerns for the individuals involved and the entire community. The University provided multiple notices and warnings and informed the encampment participants that they must disperse or face immediate discipline. We have also engaged on the issues they have raised and offered to have further discussions if they disperse.

I have determined that the encampment and related disruptions pose a clear and present danger to the substantial functioning of the University.

With great regret, we request the NYPD’s help to remove these individuals. We understand that the first step in this process will be for NYPD to use its LRAD technology to inform the participants in the encampment that they must disperse and give them time to leave prior to taking any additional action. We trust that you will take care and caution when removing any individual from our campus. The safety and security of our community is our highest priority. We appreciate your commitment to assist us in a peaceful and respectful manner at this difficult time.

Columbia is committed to allowing members of our community to engage in political expression – within established rules and with respect for the safety of all. The policies we have in place around demonstrations are in place to support both the right to expression and the safety and functioning of our University.

Thank you for your assistance with this very challenging situation.

Minouche Shafik