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Officers In Riot Gear Outside Fordham University Amid Protests; UCLA Cancels Classes After Dueling Protests On Campus Turn Violent; Columbia Asks Police To Stay On Campus To Maintain Order; NYPD Says It Cleared Protest From Fordham University And Arrested Individuals Who Did Not Disperse; U.S. Protests Against War In Gaza Escalate As Blinken Puts Pressure On Hamas To Accept Hostage/Ceasefire Deal. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired May 01, 2024 - 18:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Backwards and hit the same area of Oklahoma twice, and another spun in the opposite direction that tornadoes usually spin.


Tornadoes are possible there again tonight. It sounds like the beginning of a science fiction movie.

An unlikely hero who certainly deserves a high five is the Hive Five, is the star of our buzz worthy sports lead. An unbelievable amount of bees, number of bees, nearly postponed last night's game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Los Angeles Dodgers, but bee wrangler Matt Hilton came to the rescue. Hilton got to work as MVP Chance and Bonnie Tyler as holding out for a hero played out.

The news continues on CNN with Wolf Blitzer in the Situation Room. I'll see you at 9:30 A.M. tomorrow. Trump is back from the trail to the trial.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news, police in riot gear are now on the scene of escalating protests at Fordham University in New York. Law enforcement cracking down on unrest at multiple U.S. college campuses after days of student demonstrations against the Israel-Hamas War.

Pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian groups violently clashing over at UCLA as tensions explode and a deadly conflict overseas adds to divisions right here at home. For the next hour, we'll cover the protests live and from every angle.

We'll get an update on security at campuses, including over at Columbia University in New York after police in riot gear cleared an occupied building overnight.

Plus, the political fallout as outrage over the war in Gaza and concerns about anti-Semitism weigh on the presidential race.

Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer and this is a Situation Room special report, Unrest on Campus.

Breaking news this hour, protests are escalating on another U.S. college campus. Officers in riot gear now outside Fordham University in New York City as pro-Palestinian demonstrators are digging in at a newly formed encampment. Stand by for new details on that.

And we're tracking police action and confrontations with demonstrators at multiple colleges and universities across the country.

Our correspondents around the scene as the unrest on campus is raising tensions and causing disruptions right now.

Up first, let's go to CNN's Shimon Prokupecz. He's over at Fordham University. Shimon, give us an update on the protest there. What are you seeing? What are you hearing?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, certainly, there's been an escalation here within the last hour. There are more NYPD officers that have just been consistently arriving. You see these officers here with helmets. What we are waiting now, you'll see there are NYPD lawyers here from the legal team, whether or not they're going to order the demonstrators or protesters to leave.

At this point, they've been allowed to remain on the sidewalk, to remain in the street as they protest. They have been moving around. We were just about two blocks away, and then for whatever reason, they decided to come this way.

Let me show you the entrance. This is one of the entrances into the college, now surrounded by the NYPD. At almost every entrance and exit of this college now, the NYPD is outside preventing students from coming inside.

They are allowing people to leave, as you see some people leaving here, but the protesters have been moving around. The NYPD has been following them. Some have gone to other entrances, and right now everything is at a standoff to see what happens next. The NYPD also has brought in a bus here for potential arrests and where they can process people.

But, Wolf, this is the equipment here, let me show you. This is what we're waiting for. You see this officer here with this backpack. That is where the speaker is, when they eventually make the announcement for people to disperse and if people don't disperse, they then move in to make arrests.

What sparked all this today, this all started early this morning, is that a number of students and former students are now inside the lobby of the college on the 60th Street side. I'm on the 62nd. They have basically built an encampment. It's not a very sizable group. It's about a dozen or so. There's about six tents. So, they have been refusing to leave.

Right now, the school has not asked the NYPD to move in and remove them. Like in what we saw at Columbia, they're waiting for legal authority. They say they're ready to assist if needed, but so far they have not asked the NYPD to move in. And so for now, they are stationed outside at a concern that some of these protesters may try to go inside.


And you can see there are students inside the college here watching as this unfolds here outside, and we're waiting to see how much longer the NYPD is going to allow them to remain out here, Wolf.

BLITZER: Tense situation at the Manhattan campus of Fordham University. We'll stay in close touch with you. Stand by, Shimon. We'll get back to you.

Right now, I want to head out to UCLA and CNN's Nick Watt. Nick, police moved in overnight in response to the violent clashes between dueling protest groups. So, what's happening there now?

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the mayor of Los Angeles just described what happened right where I'm standing late last night and early into the morning. She called it absolutely detestable violence. She says that anyone who was setting off fireworks, spraying chemicals, physically assaulting other people will be found, arrested and prosecuted.

The governor of California has also called the police the police limited and delayed response. He's called that unacceptable.

Now, we have just heard from the president of the entire U.C. system. He is now promising an external independent review. He says 15 people were injured here last night, one of them taken to the hospital. And he says that he will see that this camp is dismantled at, quote, the appropriate time.

Here, there and everywhere, Wolf, college administrators trying to work out how to keep a lid on all this.


WATT (voice over): The University of Wisconsin, Madison, the latest scene of police and college protesters clashing as campus police arrested dozens while clearing an encampment this morning.

DAHLIA SABA, STUDENTS FOR JUSTICE IN PALESTINE, UW-MADISON: They started pushing them, they started shoving them. Students were held down with batons.

WATT: Most were released without citations, college officials say it's unclear how many were affiliated with the school. They say some resisted arrest, report four law enforcement officers were injured and say peaceful protests that abide by campus rules are still allowed, just no tense.

MARC LOVICOTT, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, UW-MADISON POLICE: We are grateful that our protesters are still here and they are exercising their First Amendment right. Last night in New York, NYPD dressed in riot gear arrested around 300 as they cleared Columbia University's Hamilton Hall, which had been occupied by pro-Palestinian protesters here on the campus that largely kicked off this now nationwide movement.

MAYOR ERIC ADAMS (D-NEW YORK CITY, NY): There are individuals and organizations that are not students. We see the shift in tactics that are being used, destruction of property, destructions of cameras.

WATT: Colombia's president said the, quote, drastic escalation of the protests pushed the university to the brink.

Overnight at UCLA, counter-protesters, pro-Israel protesters among them, breached the barricades around the pro-Palestinian encampment, which also breaches UCLA campus rules, a firecracker thrown in, cones and more flying through the darkness, pepper spray from inside that camp.

The college newspaper photographed a counter-protester spraying from an aerosol can. Daily Bruin reporters on the scene were slapped and indirectly sprayed with irritants. We are sickened by this senseless violence and it must end, said a college spokesperson.

Ever since this encampment sprang up Thursday morning, tension has been mounting. The first scuffles Thursday afternoon, more over the weekend, hence the barriers and the buffer zone that was breached last night.

The university has allowed the protesters to control who enters the camp. Monday, a Jewish student posted this, protesters well outside of their encampment, he says, blocking his way.

ELI TSIVES, UCLA STUDENT: They're not letting me walk in. My class is over there. I want to use that entrance.

WATT: UCLA called this abhorrent and removed those barriers. Then last night, this.

VINCENT DOEHR, UCLA STUDENT: What happened last night was an attack on our encampment by Zionist thugs that the university did nothing to stop.

WATT: UCLA has until now kept security light the LAPD out of sight until late last night. But after what happened today, law enforcement is on site and all classes are canceled.


WATT (on camera): Now, over the past couple of days, Wolf, this has been the buffer zone between the pro-Palestinian encampment and anyone else. After what happened late last night into this morning, that buffer zone has now been extended 50 or 60 yards that way.

Has it worked? Well, yes, and no I was just over there and witnessed a faculty group expressing their solidarity with the pro-Palestinian protesters. They were then shouted down by pro-Israeli protesters. It didn't get violent but it was very, very loud and people were very, very angry. So, basically, that problem has just been moved a little ways over there.

So, we'll see what happens this afternoon and into this evening. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. Nick, thank you very much, Nick Watt on the scene for us at UCLA.

I want to head over to the University of Wisconsin at Madison right now.


That's where CNN's Whitney Wild is standing by. Whitney, police, I understand, with batons and riot shields, tore down protesters' tents on the campus this morning. Give us the latest.

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this is a very different scene from this morning when it was pretty chaotic. What you see right now are dozens, if not hundreds of students gathered here. This is the Library Mall at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

There is a mix of students and protesters. A protest organizer tells me that most of the students you see here, Wolf, are protesters, again, very calm here, very different from what we saw this morning.

University officials say that this encampment has been up since Monday. And in that time, the students here have been issued warning after warning after warning that there is an explicit ban on camping, and even still those tents remained.

So, it was around 7:00this morning that police here at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, as well as local and state police began that law enforcement action that we saw earlier today. And as it was described to me by a protester, police linked up had basically a line with their riot shields and moved into those tents and took down several of them.

But, Wolf, I'll take you over to where the tent encampment is. You can get a better sense of it. So, earlier today after that law enforcement action, this was almost all gone except for a few of these tents. In that time, since that law enforcement action happened, it wrapped up around 9:00 this morning Central Time, these tents have gone back up. So, now the big question is, is there going to be another law enforcement action?

We've asked that question. We have not yet heard back. The results of the action this morning were 34 arrests. 30 people did not receive charges. Only four people received charges. And some of those include battery on a police officer.

Although our understanding is that of the 30 who were released, there is always a chance that they may be cited later. But at present, the majority of those people were detained and released without charges. Again, Wolf, the situation remains very much as it began with this tent encampment. So, we'll see if there's another police enforcement action later on.

BLITZER: Tense situation at all these college campuses. Whitney Wild, thank you very much.

Just ahead of first-hand account of the violent clashes at UCLA from a student journalist who was in the middle of it all.

Plus, the state of security on campuses where protests are erupting and police are cracking down. This is a Situation Room special report.



BLITZER: Very disturbing scenes of violence at UCLA as counterdemonstrators breached a pro-Palestinian encampment and clashes erupted, with some using fireworks and others wielding bats.

Joining us now, UCLA Student Journalist Catherine Hamilton, who was there as the attacks unfolded. Catherine, thank you very much for joining us.

Take us inside, if you will. It was a harrowing experience, I'm sure, for you and other student journalists as these counter-protesters attacked the pro-Palestine encampment. What did you see and what did you hear?

CATHERINE HAMILTON, UCLA DAILY BRUIN STUDENT JOURNALIST: Yes, absolutely. I was there from 5:00 P.M. onward yesterday, and I was there through 4:00 A.M. this morning. There was a lot of violence incited by the counterdemonstrators. There were the launching of fireworks, as you mentioned, and there was the wielding of the metal bats. But there was also the throwing of the encampment barriers across the remaining barriers into the individuals who were standing inside the encampment.

And there were even instances of electric scooters being thrown toward those individuals. And there were some instances of fiscal fights typically agitated by the counter protesters against individuals of the encampment who were protecting the barricade from the outside.

BLITZER: It must have been so scary and frightening. How are you and your colleagues, the student journalists who were there specifically, recovering after what happened last month?

HAMILTON: I think it's really difficult because, truly, there's not much time for us to recover. As the new day starts, we have to be prepared for anything to happen especially since yesterday, Chancellor Gene Block and the university did release a statement saying that the encampment was unlawful and unauthorized and that students and faculty who are participating in it and refuse to leave may face disciplinary actions, such as sanctions and suspension and expulsion. And so we don't really necessarily have that much time to process. I know that all of us were there overnight. Many of us were on the scene until very late, especially when it got very dangerous we were even still there but we just had to get up for this new day and continue reporting because we know that the work of student journalists is really important in these scenarios.

BLITZER: So important indeed and we're grateful to you and all your fellow student journalists over there for reporting the news. That's what we try to do. Thanks so much for joining us and good luck to you and your fellow student journalists.

Coming up how the campus protests are playing out over there on the presidential campaign trail, Donald Trump trying to use the issue against President Biden.



BLITZER: There's more breaking news right now and the campus unrest. Law enforcement is taking action against protesters at the Dallas campus of the University of Texas.

CNN's Ed Lavendera is joining us on the phone right now. Ed, what can you tell us?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Well, this situation developing on the campus of the University of Texas at Dallas, which is in the northern suburb of Richardson, just north of Dallas, at the campus with about 30,000 students, and a student organization called Students for Justice in Palestine started setting up an encampment area early this morning, around 4:30 A.M. Central Time.

And now within the last 30 minutes or so, we have seen a massive presence of state troopers as well as local police going through the encampment, starting to rip apart tents and coverings there, pushing the students back.

This is an organization that had been holding a number of sit-ins over the last ten days or so in administration offices, calling for the university to divest itself from investments that support Israel, as well as calling for university leadership to call for a ceasefire in Gaza.


But this is really the most intense scenes of protest that we've seen on this particular campus of UTD in just north of Dallas, and there are several hundred students out there that were in that encampment, and it grew very quickly, Wolf.

It started, as I mentioned, just after 4:00 this morning, and it wasn't until some 12 hours later or so that authorities moved in and started dispersing the crowd there. And that's the scene that continues to unfold at this hour. BLITZER: Yes, campus unrest continuing to spread all across the country right now. Ed Lavandera, thanks for that update.

The protests are clearly also having an impact on the campaign trail tonight. Donald Trump slamming President Biden over the anti-Gaza war protests, saying, and I'm quoting him now, nowhere to be found. He's referring to President Biden.

CNN's Kristen Holmes is joining us from Michigan right now, where former President Trump has an event later this hour. CNN's M.J. Lee is in Florida covering an appearance by Vice President Kamala Harris there.

Kristen, first of all, tell us more about what Trump is saying.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So, right now, Donald Trump is in Michigan giving his pretty standard campaign speech, but earlier, he was in Wisconsin, clearly seizing on what he and his team believe is an opening with these campus protests sweeping across the country, this idea that it has given them an opening, an opportunity as President Joe Biden has been forced to navigate a sensitive issue ahead of the November election.

He essentially doubled down. He said that President Biden was not visible enough and he praised law enforcement for their crackdowns. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT, 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The radical extremists and far-left agitators are terrorizing college campuses, as you possibly noticed. And Biden is nowhere to be found. He hasn't said anything. But they're his political base.


HOLMES: He also pointed to a CVS report that said that the Biden administration was considering bringing in some Palestinian refugees, those are people who are fleeing the war in Gaza, as more refugees. He went on to say that this was bad for these college campuses, and, again, praised law enforcement.

But, Wolf, this is just another opportunity for Donald Trump that he's really seizing on. He has the essentially upper hand in this situation because he's not president. He doesn't have to propose any sort of tangible plan that has to be put into action.

And they are looking at this as an opportunity ahead of November, as Biden's team hope that this eases up. Donald Trump's team only hopes that it ramps up to help his campaign.

BLITZER: All right. Kristen, thank you very much. And Trump can campaign today because the criminal trial, the hush money criminal trial in New York, is in recess on Wednesdays.

Let's go over to check in what's happening with the vice president, Kamala Harris, who's in Florida. She spent the day focusing in her speech on abortion rights. But how much pressure are she and President Biden facing to speak out about the campus protests all across the country?

M.J. Lee is joining us right now. What's the latest on that front, M.J.?

M.J. LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the focus for the Biden campaign here in Jacksonville today was entirely on the issue of reproductive rights, Vice President Kamala Harris coming to Florida on the same day that a controversial six-week abortion ban went into effect. And the vice president really pointing her finger at the former president, Donald Trump, saying that there's currently a full-on assault on reproductive rights and saying that a second Trump term would mean more bans, more suffering, and less freedom.

One thing that the vice president did not mention on stage here in Jacksonville is the eruption of pro-Palestinian protests across college campuses. You know, back in Washington, of course, the White House has been closely monitoring this situation. And we've seen the White House trying to walk this delicate balance of saying that they support the right to peacefully protest and the freedom of speech but also trying to draw the line at any kind of hate speech and anti- Semitism.

And we saw White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre today answering the question of why the president himself has not addressed this issue in recent days. Take a listen.


KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president is being kept regularly updated.

No president, no president has spoken more forcefully about combating anti-Semitism than this president.

REPORTER: The way that he responded leaves maybe the impression that the White House views anti-Semitism as synonymous with the protests as a whole. That's --

JEAN-PIERRE: No, I was very clear but there's a small number of students who are causing the disruption.


LEE: And, you know, Wolf, one consistent thing that I have heard and my colleagues have heard in recent days is this insistence from White House officials that the president is being driven by policy and not politics when it comes to the Israel-Hamas War.


The idea being that if he were being driven by politics, maybe he would be making a different decision, gone down a different path. We are also learning from pool reporters at a fundraiser that the president was in, in Washington, that this issue is not one that he addressed in front of donors. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. M.J. Lee, thank you very much. Kristen Holmes, thanks to you as well.

Let's get some more on all of these developments with our political experts. Karen Finney, I'll start with you. President Biden is walking a tightrope on this issue. Does he need to speak up more forcefully on these protests all over the these college campuses all over the country? How do you think he should approach this?

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I actually think they're doing the right thing. Many of these protesters, if you believe what they're saying their demands are, are issues related to the administrations of their college campuses. And so I do think there are issues where having the president insert himself is not necessarily the right thing.

And the other thing I would just note is that Politico is reporting this evening that the president is going to actually give a speech sometime next week on anti-Semitism. So, I do think he's trying to make sure we don't lose the real issue here, which is anti-Semitism, pushing back against hate. But it's a different thing to say you care about the Palestinian people than it is to -- than some of what we're hearing from the protesters.

The last thing I'll just mention, I think the size really matters. I mean, I think monitoring how big this really is. As you know, Harvard University is one of the best youth polls. And they found that this issue is actually number 15 among college students. So, I think keeping it in perspective is helpful.

BLITZER: Yes, it's important to keep it in perspective, but that poll was taken before all these demonstrations really exploded the way they are at these college campuses.

Alyssa Farah Griffin, I want you and our viewers to listen to the way Trump described law enforcement, the NYPD in New York, specifically going into Columbia University. Listen to this.


TRUMP: It was a beautiful thing to watch, New York's finest. You saw him go up in ladders to break in the windows and getting in. And that's dangerous because you don't know what's on the other side of that window. And they went and they knocked it out and they were incredible. They did a great job, New York's finest.


BLITZER: So what do you make of that Alyssa.

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Listen, Trump's seizing the opportunity of this moment. I think we are in a very real scenario where these campus protests could be part of a perfect storm to really boost Donald Trump. And I say this because Joe Biden risks losing support from his left flank.

We know that the young people are not with him. We know the progressive left is not with him with regard to America's response and support for Israel. But we also know that a lot of moderate swing voters who he carried in 2020, who are probably inclined to be with him, they see what we're seeing on college campuses, this violence, this lawlessness, this recklessness, and it really resonates.

I'm just going to disagree with Karen here. I think the president should give a national address. I think he owes it to the young voters here to explain exactly what he is doing with regard to the war in Gaza, what he's asking of Bibi Netanyahu and how he's been working to get a ceasefire. There's a level of educating, be the communicator in chief here. He can't sit back or he can wake up in a moment and realize that this really benefited Donald Trump.

BLITZER: Interesting. Yasmeen Abutaleb of The Washington Post is also with us. Yasmeen, you were there inside the White House briefing earlier today. Why is the Biden administration apparently having such a difficult time addressing this issue?

YASMEEN ABUTALEB, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: I think they see it as a lose-lose in the way that they address it. On the one hand, they condemn anti-Semitism and some of the anti-Semitic chants that we've heard arise at some of these protests. On the other hand, there are many peaceful pro-Palestinian demonstrators, and they understand that the Democratic Party is deeply divided over the war. And the approach President Biden has chosen to take in, which so far is unconditional military support of Israel with more than 35,000 Palestinians who have been killed, a lot of criticism of the way the war has been conducted.

So, I think they are trying to be very careful to not alienate the moderate voters they need to repeat their winning 2020 coalition, but also they really need the young voters and progressive voters, which polls show widely disapprove of the way Biden has handled this war.

So, they're sort of trying to walk this middle line of condemning anti-Semitism, but also saying they understand where the protesters are coming from, and there's a right to peaceful protest. So, I think if they come down much harder than that, they risk alienating one of these groups that they need.

FINNEY: I would just add, though, Wolf, I think the other dynamic that we need to be considering here, and M.J. was sort of alluding to this, and that is, what you might say politically in response to what's happening on college campuses is not necessarily the same conversation we know that he is having behind the scenes diplomatically to try to secure the freedom of the hostages, to try to actually secure a ceasefire.


And so this is where I disagree with Alyssa a little bit, which is, again, he's going to give a speech next week. We'll see what he's going to say.

But I think they will be writing that speech with the, you know, mindset of, again, walking this fine balance, because it's still a very active situation in terms of foreign policy, and trying to, you know, get Bibi to do certain things that we know he does not at this point want to do, is a little different than talking about the protesters.

GRIFFIN: And the reality, if I may jump in, is, you know, campuses are going to wind down for the summer, but I don't think we anticipate seeing these protests. And we saw them at the White House Correspondents' Dinner. I think there's anticipated that they'll be at the Democratic Convention.

And people keep drawing this very, very imperfect analogy to 1968. And I would just remind folks, Nixon won. If people see that they feel like, you know, there's protests, there's violence in the streets, swing voters hate that, and they can hold their nose and vote for Donald Trump.

So, there's something more Biden needs to be doing, but I take Karen's point.

FINNEY: Well, let's just remember, the Democratic mayor is the one who actually got it done in New York, by the way.

BLITZER: And very quickly, it was announced today that next week the president will deliver a major speech at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. That was announced earlier today.

To all of you, thank you very, very much.

Just ahead, as we continue to monitor the very tense situation at Fordham University in New York, we're going to break down the police response there and at campuses all across the United States.



BLITZER: We're keeping your close eye on the situation over at Fordham University in New York, where protests against the Israel-Hamas war are clearly escalating, and officers in riot gear are now just outside the university.

Let's go back to CNN's Shimon Prokupecz. He's on the scene for us in New York. Shimon, give us an update.

PROKUPECZ: Wolf, a significant development here at Fordham, the group of students and former students that were behind me here at Fordham University, camped out in the lobby, have now been taken into custody by the NYPD, the NYPD just a short time ago releasing video.

And in the video, you could see the protesters lined up, police officers putting those zip ties on them, removing the tents that have been in the lobby of Fordham University since early this morning. The students have been refusing to leave. The school notified them, that, as a result, they were being suspended. And then a short time ago, the school sent a letter to the NYPD, just like we saw with Columbia University last night, and what we have previously seen with the NYU, asking the NYPD to come in and make arrests and to remove the individuals that were in the lobby.

What Fordham says was that there was a clear and present danger, that there was a safety concern, and, regrettably, they needed to ask the NYPD to come in and remove the protesters.

Also significantly, what's significant, Wolf, is that Fordham University is now asking the NYPD to remain on their campus, around their buildings, for the graduation on May 22nd. So, this will now be the second university in the city of New York, requesting the presence of law enforcement at their graduation.

Right now, most of the people who were outside when we were on last, they've all gone. You can see here, Wolf, they all have left. The NYPD sort of, they came in force. You saw that earlier, about 100 or so officers came in here, they lined the street as they were making the arrests, and many of the protesters left.

But the campus, the university, and the building right now is still surrounded by law enforcement, by the NYPD at every entrance and exit, and they remain on the street with this presence outside the university.

But certainly a significant development here, that the students, the protesters that were in the lobby here, I don't know how much you could see through this glass, Wolf, but I'm hoping you could see a little, they were just simply camped out here.

It was less than, probably about a dozen or so, less than 15 of them. They were in the lobby. And so now this has been cleared out, and the protesters who came out to support them have left, but the NYPD remains out here to provide security.

BLITZER: And presumably they'll stay there for a while.

Shimon Prokupecz over at Fordham University, thank you very much.

I want to bring in former D.C. Chief of Homeland Security and Intelligence Donell Harvin along with CNN Chief Law Enforcement and Intelligence Analyst John Miller.

John, first of all, give us your analysis of what we are seeing, the police moving in at Fordham University in New York. What is the risk of heightened police responses potentially inflaming the tensions?

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, what's really interesting, Wolf, is that in these cases, police don't really set the tolerances. The tolerances are set by the universities. And I think that the university presidents and administrators have been watching what is occurring at each other's campuses and changing their decisions on how long to let something go on, how much to let it grow before intervention.

You know, Fordham is a Jesuit school and a very tightly run operation. So, I think what you saw today is the occupation inside their lobby complete with tents. Police were called.

But what you're looking at here on this video is actually not disorder. It's classic civil disobedience. The instruction was given to those who wanted to leave could leave. Those who remained would be arrested. They lined up peacefully. And you know, in that genre, it's looked at as a sign of your commitment to the cause.

I'm willing to protest. I'm willing to take my arrest. It's called passive resistance. So, you know, this is classic civil disobedience. So, I don't see it heating up or inflaming tensions as much as I see protesters are beginning to see that institutions are shortening the leash on this kind of activity.

BLITZER: Yeah, we saw, Donell, we saw police fail to prevent violence over at UCLA and an incident in Arizona State University, where police remove the protesters hijab.


How complicated are these police actions right now, dealing with extremely sensitive issues and all these young students?

DONELL HARVIN, FORMER DC CHIEF OF HOMELAND SECURITY AND INTELLIGENCE: They're extremely complicated, Wolf, because each jurisdiction has different laws and statutes, for, as John mentioned, what acceptable. Some property is private and some properties public, depending on what type of institution.

Additionally, law enforcement agencies have different standards in terms of how they arrest individuals, how they searched them, how they protect themselves, and when they doing search. And you mentioned the hijab, what they remove and what they don\t remove.

And so you really have to look at each case individually and within context of what's going on, on the ground. There's a great juxtaposition here between how NYPD handled and how the universities in New York City handled their civil disobedience and how it was handled in UCLA.

BLITZER: A good point.

John, turning to the NYPD clearing out and arresting Columbia University protesters.

I want to play for you and our viewers. What we heard from New York officials. Listen to this.


MAYOR ERIC ADAMS (D), NEW YORK: When the canvas should not have been there, they were people who are professionals and we saw evidence of training. REBECCA WEINER, DEPUTY COMMISSIONER, INTELLIGENCE AND COUNTERTERRORISM

AT NYPD: These students don't come in the doors knowing how to barricade themselves behind barriers that they've created, right? These are all skills that are taught and learned and that presents a problem.


BLITZER: So, John, how is the NYPD working to understand how many protesters were outside? Were actually outside agitators as opposed to being students or those affiliated with the university?

MILLER: So the people in the encampment, in the tents at Columbia University were almost all students, but police arrested about 40 -- between 40 and 50 people inside Hamilton Hall, and they have supplied all of those names to Columbia University and the university is running it against their records to figure out how many of them were students, and what percentage of them, if any, were not.

BLITZER: Very interesting. They got their work cut out for them, all of them.

John Miller, thank you. Donell Harvin, thanks to you as well. And we'll be right back with more news.



BLITZER: We're monitoring the situation over at Fordham University in New York where arrests of protesters are underway. As dissent against the Israel-Hamas war is intensifying, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been turning up the pressure on Hamas to accept the new proposal to release more hostages and to accept a pause in the fighting in Gaza.

Joining us now, Congressman Jim Himes, Democratic of Connecticut, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee. He's been briefed on these ceasefire proposals that are now under consideration.

Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.

These hostage and ceasefire talks as you and I well know and our viewers know, they've been going on for many months. How close are the parties right now to a potential breakthrough? And you think that would lower the temperature at college campuses here in the United States?

REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT): Yeah. Well, Wolf, you know, it's always unwise to bet on the success of a deal in the Middle East. Sadly all too often, conflicts there go really very, very poorly. But the president, the secretary of state, the director of CIA, you know, the United States government, has really gone to work and put their shoulder to the wheel on trying to get Hamas and Israel, and, by the way, not just the us, but Egypt and Qatar and others the stakes are really pretty high, Wolf. I'm not sure that what happens on the college campuses holds a candle to the stakes in terms of innocent life in Rafah. If a incursion into Rafah can be averted by a deal that will be a lot of lives saved. You know, if a deal is established, it might be something that could serve as a foundation for a larger piece deal. So there's a heck of a lot at stake.

Whether what the reverberations would be on campus. I don't know, but I must tell you personally, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that a deal can succeed and that a lot of lives will be saved because of that.

BLITZER: Yeah, me, too. President Biden, as you know, has been forcefully condemning antisemitism. But he's actually been saying very little directly to the protestors themselves.

Is he doing enough, you think, to lead the country through this very turbulent time?

HIMES: Well, the president is obviously had to thread a very difficult needle most Americans believed that we should support Israel and our strong in their support of Israel. I think most Americans to look at the loss of innocent life in Gaza and the humanitarian situation there and say that's not right.

You know, sadly, the conflict and I know this because I'm in politics, has sort of acquired -- you know, a failure to appreciate that there are profound concerns and equities on both sides of this struggle. And the president of course, is caught in the middle of that.

With respect to the campus protests, to me, it doesn't seem that complicated, right obviously, these students have a right to express their opinions. We enshrined in our First Amendment people's right to make points to agitate, to advocate. What you don't have a right to do without consequence, of course, is to break rules and to break laws.

And whether you're, you know, the group of people who assaulted the capital on January 6, or a protest or who threw a brick through a Starbucks window, or somebody who is illegal usually trespassing on a -- on a -- on a faculty, you know, on a university property there are consequences. Sometimes those consequences are meted out by the law, by the police departments. Sometimes there for internal disciplinary.

But this used to be embraced and you'll remember this, Wolf, this used to be embraced by the notion of civil disobedience. Martin Luther King understood that sometimes you had to break the law, but when you did that, you start -- you suffered the consequences and you did so willingly, and knowingly.


BLITZER: Congressman Jim Himes, thanks is usual for joining us. Appreciate it very much.

HIMES: Thank -- thank you, Wolf.

And coming up, campus protests now and how they compare to a long history of student dissent in this country.


BLITZER: As we continue to monitor the unfolding protests and arrests on U.S. college campus, CNN's as Brian Todd is taking a closer look at the history of student unrest in America.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 1968, student protesters at New York's Columbia University take over several buildings and briefly even take the dean hostage. One of the buildings they seized, Hamilton Hall, which students occupied during this week's protests at Columbia.

TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: 1968, the first time it was occupied, Hamilton Hall was the scene of a dramatic police action that resulted in the arrests of 700 people.

TODD: Those protests against the Vietnam War had been taking place for years on college campuses across America and would continue for a few more for years from Columbia to Cal Berkeley, to Kent State.

In 1969, student protesters at Harvard took over and occupied university hall, marching school officials out of the building.

PROF. IMANI CHEERS, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: What were seeing right now is students really engaging and not only using their voices were using their bodies. And that's the way that we saw students in the '60s doing it.

TODD: The primary difference between then and now, the scale of the violence.

While skirmishes have broken out at UCLA, and some other campuses during the current demonstrations, these protests have been for the most part, peaceful. In the Vietnam era, violence broke out routinely and on many campuses, students often brawling with police.

PROF. JULIA REUBEN, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: Disciplining students, calling in the police, having protests removed, that tended to increase the sympathy for protesters, build the size of protests and also increase the voice of more extreme activists.

TODD: In two horrific episodes, the Vietnam era violence turned deadly. In May 1970, on the campus of Kent State University, Ohio National Guard troops opened fire on student protesters, killing four of them and injuring several others.

Days later, during racial injustice protests at Jackson State College in Mississippi, Police fired at a dormitory, killing two students and injuring a dozen others. Possibly a closer comparison to what's going on now took place in the 1980s, when students across America protested against apartheid in South Africa.

They called on schools to divest themselves from companies groups that supported the apartheid regime in South Africa, much like students are now calling oncologists to divest themselves from Israeli linked companies,.

CHEERS: Rarely we talk about boycott, divestment and sanctions. That's what it was. We're going to use a non-violent peaceful resistance.

Another dynamic that hasn't changed across these arrows of protest.

PROF. LAUREN DUNCAN, SMITH COLLEGE: They've got a lot of energy and they're idealistic and they like to protest when things feel unjust or seem unjust to them.


TODD (on camera): But the actual results could be different this time around. It is not clear if these protests are going to change the collective view of the Israel-Hamas war, or the U.S. government's handling of it -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian Todd at George Washington University here in Washington, thanks very much.

And to our viewers, thanks for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.