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Anti-Israel student protests at Columbia University reportedly orchestrated by violent outsiders

Protestors gather at the gates of Columbia University, in support of student protesters who barricaded themselves in Hamilton Hall, during the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in New York City, April 30, 2024. (Photo: REUTERS/David Dee Delgado)

Outside violent "agitators" have played a significant role in the Columbia University protests, according to several media reports.

James Carlson, 40, who was arrested last Thursday after police raided the New York campus, is a “long-time figure in the anarchist world” and anti-government “extremist circles,” according to police sources, as quoted by the New York Post.

Carlson, a millionaire and heir to an advertising empire, lives in a mansion in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

During the protests, Carlson allegedly lit an Israeli flag on fire, assaulted a supporter using a rock, and destroyed a camera while in custody. He was charged with burglary, reckless endangerment, criminal mischief, conspiracy and criminal trespassing.

According to the Post, Carlson is being investigated "as a ‘possible leader’ of the anti-Israel protesters who broke into Columbia University’s Hamilton Hall Tuesday night and barricaded themselves inside.”

He has been previously referred to as a "high-ranking agitator" and is alleged to have been involved in a violent protest in San Francisco in 2005. During this event, he is suspected of participating in an attempted lynching and aggravated assault on a police officer, as reported by the New York City Police Department (NYPD).

Police sources said that a significant percentage of the protesters arrested were not registered students.

“A preliminary review of the numbers, just the beginning process of analyzing, but it appears, though, that over 40% of those who participated in Columbia and CUNY [protests] were not from the school and they were outsiders,” NY Mayor Eric Adams said.

The individuals arrested at CUNY included serial anti-Israel protester, Rudy Ralph Martinez, 32, who reportedly stated that the Oct. 7 massacre perpetrated by Hamas was one of the “greatest days of my life.” 

According to reports, significantly older "anarchists" also participated as instructors or instigators at Columbia University demonstrations.

Two young students, who tried to prevent a mob of protesters from barricading Hamilton Hall, witnessed the 63-year-old activist Lisa Fithian instructing protesters on how to barricade the doors. She called the two young students “assholes,” according to the report.

“She was right in the middle of it, instructing them how to better set up the barricades,” said Rory Wilson, 22, a Jewish student. “Given that the barricades were a pretty central part of the plan of how to take over Hamilton, I’d expect that she would have been pretty central in the logistics planning.”

Fithian is a professional agitator and anti-Israel activist who gets paid to train activist groups on how to demonstrate and disrupt, according to the Post. Last month, she was “training the participants on the next Flotilla to Gaza in the coming week,” in Turkey.

In a social media post on 𝕏, NYPD Deputy Commissioner Kaz Daughtry listed items found during the raid at Columbia – gas masks, ear plugs, helmets, goggles, tape, hammers, knives, ropes, a book about terrorism – and wrote: “These are not the tools of students protesting, these are the tools of agitators, of people who were working on something nefarious.”

Daughtry included video footage of a pamphlet calling on people “from New York to Gaza and across the Turtle Island” – the indigenous name for North America – to “disrupt/reclaim/destroy [Z]ionist business interests everywhere.”

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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