Police arrest 34 people at Brooklyn Museum after protesters occupy building

The New York Police Department said Saturday it arrested 34 people after responding to a pro-Palestinian protest in Brooklyn, New York, that resulted in reports of damaged artwork and harassment of staff at the Brooklyn Museum.

Within Our Lifetime, a New York-based and Palestinian-led community organization, called for Friday’s protest to “de-occupy” the museum until institutions and investments are removed from any investments related to the assault Israeli military action in the Gaza Strip which lasted several months.

The protest began at the Barclays Center at 3 p.m. Friday and arrived at the Brooklyn Museum at 4:30 p.m. Protesters occupied the public plaza in front of the museum and entered the building.

Individuals blocked entrances and displayed banners inside and on the facade of the museum, according to museum spokesperson Taylor Maatman.

A banner hangs Friday at the Brooklyn Museum in New York.Leonardo Munoz / AFP – Getty Images

“Unfortunately, existing and newly installed artwork in our plaza was damaged, and some members of our public safety personnel were physically and verbally assaulted and harassed,” Maatman said.

Videos shared and verified by NBC News showed police trying to secure the museum from the crowd.

Within Our Lifetime posted on social media that its president, Nerdeen Kiswani, had been “targeted and violently arrested,” and claimed that police had ripped off her hijab.

Police arrested a pro-Palestinian protester outside the Brooklyn Museum in New York on Friday.Andrés Kudacki/AP

The museum closed an hour early out of concern for the building, collections and staff, Maatman said.

The protest is the latest in a series of pro-Palestinian actions that have taken place in New York and across the country in recent months, including those led by students at Columbia University, the University from New York and other universities.

At least 80 people were arrested on Friday At the University of California, Santa Cruz, after the university asked for help clearing a pro-Palestinian encampment, said Abby Butler, director of strategic communications and media relations.

Protests on US college campuses have already led to more than 3,000 arrests, according to an NBC News tally.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators in New York, May 31. Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

Chancellor Cynthia Larive addressed students in a letter Friday, saying the university tried to avoid involving law enforcement, but that disruptions experienced during the encampment were “harmful” to other members from the community.

“I believe that many of those who have engaged in these protests over these many weeks are well-intentioned and are attempting to bring about change through their spheres of influence,” Larive wrote. “This decision was not made because individuals demonstrated; it is because they chose to do so through illegal actions.

She added that students’ demands for the university to relent and boycott Israeli-affiliated businesses were already “deemed unacceptable” by the University of California President’s Office.

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