Columbia University 1968 - Photo #49

Hamilton Hall was occupied for the second time on May 21, 1968. This was a brief occupation; we were arrested before the end of day. To those of us involved it seemed a fairly peaceful affair. We were not aware that barricades such as this one had been erected by our supporters at campus entrances on Broadway and Amsterdam to prevent the police from entering. As you can see the barricades were made from police-line sawhorses. The police were let in through a normally locked door on Amsterdam Avenue and came to Hamilton Hall through the tunnels and took us out the same way. When word got out we had been arrested, a riot broke out. I don't know the details because I was already gone by then, but I do know the police, including mounted ones, attacked the crowds, chased them from the campus and down the streets, and that the barricades were set on fire (next image). Former New York State governer George Petaki says*:
From around the back of Low library comes this wave of T.P.F. guys just clubbing everybody in sight. I guess their orders were to clear the campus, which was incredibly stupid and counterproductive because many of the people outside the buildings were the anti-radicals — the pro-cop people. The radicals were inside the buildings. I remember running up the steps of Mathematics Hall, and there were T.P.F. guys on horses coming toward me, and I jumped off the steps and ran out onto Broadway. I was getting chased by a guy on a horse up Broadway. What are you going to do? The horse is faster than you are and the guy's got a club, so I dove under a car.

Virtually all my friends who'd been in the Majority Coalition switched sides, just because the cops were nuts. Those who had been supportive of the administration and the police were completely demoralized.

Until I saw this article I never knew that Pataki was at Columbia in 1968. In any case I heard similar stories from all of my friends who were on campus that night. One group ran down 115th Street and was pursed by mounted police into Riverside Park.

* Bingham, Clara, 'Voices of a Revolution — “The Whole World Is Watching”: An Oral History of the 1968 Columbia Uprising', Vanity Fair, April 2018, p.130.