Jewish students at Cooper Union College were not locked inside the library
Viral video wrongly claims that Jewish students were barricaded inside the library for their safety as pro-Hamas protesters attempted to break in
Claim: Jewish students at Cooper Union College New York were locked inside the library for their own safety as a mob of Hamas supporting students attempted to break in.
Fact: The video shows a peaceful protest by pro-Palestinian students who were chanting slogans outside the library. The protest was planned and there was no property damage or violence, according to the police. There is also no evidence that any of the demonstrators supported Hamas.
On October 26, 2023, a six-second video clip was published by non-profit Stop Antisemitism, and widely shared on social media. The video shows a small group of students, several identifiable as Jews by their skullcaps, talking to one another inside the library of Cooper Union College in New York, while students outside bang on the doors and yell pro-Palestinian slogans.
The video captions this snippet “Jewish students at Cooper Union College (NY) have been locked inside the library for their own safety as a mob of Hamas supporters attempt to break in!”
The claim that Jewish students at Cooper Union College New York have been locked inside the Cooper Union library for their own safety as a mob of Hamas supporters attempted to break in was also shared by news organisations such as Times of India and Fox News, as well as social media users.
Fact or Fiction?
The claim is false. Despite the caption, the video was recorded during a peaceful protest by pro-Palestinian students outside the library. According to school officials and the police, the protest was peaceful. A spokesperson for Cooper Union said that before heading to the library, protestors had demonstrated outside President Sparks’s office, where he/she was meeting with faculty members. Laura Sparks is the president of The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art and a recognized leader in higher education, finance, philanthropy, and community economic development.
Sparks said that she did not feel in danger, and that she respected the students’ right to express their views. According to the NYPD, the demonstration was planned and peaceful. The NYPD also stressed that the students were not barricaded inside the library, that they could leave at any time, and that the library door was closed by a staff member preemptively before the demonstrators arrived, as a precaution.
Furthermore, the New York Times, the New York Post, and other sources reported that NYPD Patrol Chief John Chell said that there was no direct threat, no damage, and no danger to any students in the school.
There is also no evidence that any of the protesters supported Hamas. To investigate the claim that the protesters were Hamas supporters, Soch Fact Check investigated the images and videos from the protest to look for any signs or slogans in favour of Hamas. However, we did not find such evidence and neither was there any evidence or statements from the police officers or the President of Cooper Union that the protestors were supporters of Hamas.
We also did not find any evidence or statements from the police to support the claim that the protesters supported Hamas.
The video published by Stop Antisemitism on Instagram has been viewed more than 4.1 million times and has received 55,000 likes and 1,700 comments. The video was also reshared on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube, where it received thousands of views and reactions.
Conclusion: Jewish students at Cooper Union College New York were locked in a library by a staff member as a precaution, while school officials and police confirmed the pro-Palestine protest was peaceful and there was no damage or injury. The police stressed that the Jewish students were not barricaded or trapped, and there is no proof that any of the protesters were affiliated with Hamas.
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