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NYPD leaders blast AOC criticisms of police response to N.Y. college protests

“I encourage you @AOC to visit Columbia and do a walk-through,” Deputy Commissioner of Operations Kaz Daughtry stated. “I promise our officers their job, and protect you like they have protected everyone on campus...”


U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) speaks to the media outside the Thomas P. O’Neil Jr. House Office Building on Feb. 28, 2024, in Washington D.C. (Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Congressional Integrity Project/TNS)

Jemal Countess/TNS

By Chris Sommerfeldt and Thomas Tracy
New York Daily News

NEW YORK — An NYPD chief blasted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Wednesday over her criticisms of police treatment of Columbia University pro-Palestine protesters who were temporarily cleared out of their encampment.

Ocasio-Cortez slammed Columbia’s decision to call on the NYPD to clear out the protesters.

“Not only did Columbia make the horrific decision to mobilize NYPD on their own students, but the units called in have some of the most violent reputations on the force,” the firebrand congresswoman tweeted Wednesday.

“NYPD had promised the city they wouldn’t deploy SRG [Strategic Response Group] to protests. So why are these counterterror units here?”

NYPD Chief of Patrol John Chells fired back Thursday, saying officers called to clear out the encampment on Columbia’s campus on April 18 showed “great care and professionalism.”

“Not a single incident was reported,” Chell added in his tweet on X at Ocasio-Cortez. “The only incidents that day on campus were the student’s hateful anti-Semitic speech and vile language towards our cops. I am sure you agree any hateful speech is unacceptable. You should rethink your comments to a simple thank you to the NYPD and hate has no place in our society.”

Cops removed 100 protesters from an encampment the Columbia’s south lawn at the university’s request on April 18. All but a handful were issued summonses for trespassing. But the protesters quickly returned to campus, prompting school officials to temporarily move to all-remote learning.

Chell responded to Ocasio-Cortez’s concerns with sarcasm.

“Truly amazing!” he wrote. “Columbia decided to hold its students accountable to the laws of the school. They are seeing the consequences of their actions. Something these kids were most likely never taught.”

“Good SAT scores and self-entitlement do not supersede the law,” he added. “I am sure you would agree that we have to teach them these valuable life skills.”

Providing SAT scores has been optional for enrollment at Columbia University since the COVID pandemic.

Chell recommended AOC “walk around Columbia and NYU and listen to their remarks of pure hatred.”

“I will ensure those ‘units’ (you criticized) will protect you as they do for all NYers,” he added.

Chell was backed up by NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Operations Kaz Daughtry, who also encouraged AOC to take a tour of Columbia’s campus.

“Everyday, [our officers] have to endure insults, threats, and hate speech merely because of the uniform they wear as they try to keep the peace and protect everyone’s rights,” Daughtry wrote. “I encourage you @AOC to visit Columbia and do a walk through; I promise our officers will, like always, do their job, and protect you like they have protected everyone on campus regardless of what your political beliefs are.”

“We’ll also take a report if you feel threatened,” he added.

The debate came a day after U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson met with Jewish students at Columbia and demanded that University President Minouche Shafik resign over how she handled the Gaza protests on her campus.

He also said the national guard may be needed to restore order, a recommendation Mayor Adams shot down Thursday.

“We’re controlling this in the New York City Police Department — no one does it better,” he told CBS New York. “We do not need the National Guard.”

Adams declined to say if Shafik should resign. “It’s not my determination who colleges pick to run their institution,” he said.

Columbia University has now given protesters until Friday to leave campus. NYPD officials have said they are willing to go back in at the university’s request but want to make sure there is an action plan in place first to bar protesters from returning again.


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