Student protesters renamed Columbia's Hamilton Hall "Hind's Hall" after Hind Rajab, a six-year-old Palestinian girl who was shot to death with paramedics on an IDF-supplied emergency route. Indy Scholtens
The mayor and the police blamed "outside agitators" for campus protests. Student journalists reported what they saw.
By Uzma Afreen, Angelica Ang, Fahima Degia, Mukta Joshi, Arshi Qureshi, Indy Scholtens and Sammy Sussman

In a highly produced, dramatically scored short film about their Tuesday night response to protests at Columbia University and the City College of New York, members of the New York City Police Department point at aerial shots of Columbia’s campus, identify buildings, and stand in the remains of a dismantled Gaza solidarity encampment.

“If you’re thinking about setting up tents anyplace else in the city, think again,” says an officer at the end of the video. “Colleges will reach out to us, and we’ll come there, we’ll strike you, take you to jail like we did over here.”

The NYPD descended on college campuses at the request of college administrators and under the supervision of New York City Mayor Eric Adams. Questioned about the purpose and process of their operation, they argue that the protests — in which students have voiced objections to their universities’ ties to Israel as it bombs, shoots, and starves Palestinian civilians — are unsafe, antisemitic, and run by outsiders looking to sow chaos.

On Wednesday, when New York Focus asked the NYPD if they had arrested any non-students within the encampments, a spokesperson replied with a link to a video of an NYPD press conference in which Adams and police officials declined to provide evidence for the claim. A CNN reporter tweeted on Thursday that per the NYPD, 134 of the 282 people arrested at City College and Columbia were not “affiliated” with either school — but the numbers include people arrested both inside and outside campus gates, and the definition of “affiliated” is unclear. At time of publication, the NYPD had not responded to New York Focus’s request for clarity. Members of the press have tested and pushed Adams on the claim, but the police narrative remains murky.

NYPD officers stand in front of the gates at City College on April 30, 2024. Chris Gelardi
New York Focus was on the scene as cops shoved, kettled, and chased students at City College, the second campus where the NYPD razed a Gaza solidarity encampment Tuesday.
By Chris Gelardi

As Israeli bombs pounded the city of Rafah in southern Gaza on Tuesday ahead of a planned ground invasion, New York City Police Department brass stood at the center of the quad at the City College of New York’s Harlem campus. The department had just raided a Gaza solidarity encampment there, arresting over 170 students, faculty, and supporters. The police officials snatched a Palestinian flag flying from a pole at the center of the quad — ripping it in the process — and threw it to the ground.

A deputy police commissioner posted a video of cops raising an American flag in its place. “An incredible scene and proud moment,” he called it.

New York Focus is reporting on student protests and police responses at college campuses in New York.

We’re looking to connect with students who have protested and contributing writers on the ground. If you’re interested in reporting or becoming a source, please share your contact information and a reporter will reach out. Your information will not be shared outside of the newsroom, and your name will only appear publicly with your permission.

Voters at a polling site in New York City. Hiram Alejandro Durán / THE CITY
While New York City’s public campaign finance system endures scandals, the state won’t audit the majority of campaigns.
By Alyssa Katz

At his campaign headquarters in Flushing, Queens, Assemblymember Ron Kim has been collecting small amounts of cash. Neighbors in his district give his campaign $5, $10, or $20 at a time. And because the six-term incumbent is taking advantage of New York’s new public matching program for state elections, each of these small contributions could be matched by as much as $12 in public financing for every dollar donated.

Kim’s rivals are also benefiting from the program, which matches contributions of up to $250 from district residents. An outspoken member of the Assembly’s left flank, he is facing at least two potential challengers in the June Democratic primary election. One of them, medical supply company owner Yi Andy Chen, has submitted donations that stack up to $150,000 with the public match.

That’s comparable to Kim’s matchable haul. But Chen has far outstripped Kim in donations that are too big to match: the former has reported more than a hundred donations of $1,000 and up. As of mid-March, Chen’s campaign totaled $227,000, more than double Kim’s war chest. Meanwhile, area voters are getting bombarded with super PAC mailers that scream: “SAY NO TO SOCIALIST RON KIM!”

Governor Kathy Hochul speaks at the District Attorneys Association of the State of New York winter conference on February 2, 2024. Susan Watts / Office of Governor Kathy Hochul
After DA Sandra Doorley berated a police officer, Hochul referred her to a commission that is yet to become active — and lacks the authority to issue discipline.
By Chris Gelardi

Governor Kathy Hochul referred Rochester-area District Attorney Sandra Doorley to a state misconduct commission on Sunday, after Doorley drew national attention for berating a police officer who had attempted to pull her over.

“I am the DA of Monroe County,” Doorley says in police body camera footage shot from her garage, where she proceeded to drive after the cop tried to stop her for speeding. “I don’t really care,” she adds. “If you give me a traffic ticket, that’s fine. I’m the one who prosecutes it.”

In a statement Sunday, the governor accused Doorley of “claiming she is above the law, attempting to use her public office to evade responsibility, and acting unprofessionally.” She announced that she had sent the case to the New York state Commission on Prosecutorial Conduct.

The Commission on Prosecutorial Conduct, however, isn’t operational. Even if it were, it would lack disciplinary power — thanks to a lawsuit brought by the state’s district attorneys.

Former Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation creating the CPC in June 2021, two months before he resigned and Hochul took over. It hasn’t taken a single case in the nearly three years since.


Copyright © New York Focus 2023, All rights reserved.
Staying Focused is compiled and written by Alex Arriaga
Contact Alex at

Feedback? Tips? Pitches? Contact us at:

Support our work!

Interested in sponsoring these emails? Get in touch! Email

This email was sent to *|EMAIL|*

unsubscribe from this list  ·  update subscription preferences