Rep. Ilhan Omar’s Daughter Says Arrested Columbia Students Were ‘100% Targeted’ | Video

Isra Hirsi describes the protest encampment at the school as “beautiful” and says students prayed, sang and cooked together

Rep. Ilhan Omar’s daughter Isra Hirsi, a student at Barnard College, was among the more than 100 students who were arrested for participating in the pro-Palestine encampment at sister school Columbia University. While speaking with MSNBC’s Ayman Mohyeldin, Hirsi insisted that she and her fellow students were “100% targeted.”

“Every single protest that we have, there’s a group of counter-protesters that bring all of their items, their flags, and things like that,” Hirsi said, “and they’re not seen as having unsanctioned protests, or really received with full disciplinary warnings that many of our fellow organizers receive just for being seen at these protests.”

The students were arrested after setting up camp on Columbia’s lawn for more than 30 hours. Columbia President Minouche Shafiq asked the NYPD for help with a “clear and present danger,” but Police Chief John Chell said the department didn’t use the term to describe what was happening on the lawn.

“And so there is definitely some hypocrisy here, especially if you kind of see it with the students that were — that sprayed us with the chemical weapons. In fact, there is no public information as to what happened to them, but rather the universities actively discussing what is happening to the students here, and making it a whole public spectacle,” she added, “when we haven’t done anything to physically harm students, whereas those that sprayed those chemical weapons physically harmed students.”

Hirsi received notification of her suspension from Barnard at 10 a.m. Thursday morning along with two fellow students. The email she was sent said she was suspended because she “engaged in disruptive behavior,” but notably “had not outlined the code of conduct that we had violated.”

“The three of us were the only three that had done public interviews at that point, and so we think that our targeting or the reason we got suspended so early was due to the fact that we had made ourselves known,” Hirsi said, “and then that the school got NYPD records to be able to arrest the rest of the students.”

She added that though she knew being suspended was a possibility, she was surprised by how swiftly the trio were locked out of their dorms and unable to access anything on campus.

Hirsi also defended the encampment and described it as “honestly one of the beautiful forms of solidarity.” The students sang and prayed together, she noted, and observed Shabbat on Friday night. Importantly, she added, Columbia — which has a long history of student protests — had previously designated the lawn as an appropriate place to protest, and “therefore it shouldn’t have been seen as disruptive.”

The protests have largely been described as nonviolent, though some have cited areas of tension in nearby off-campus locations. NBC News Correspondent Antonia Hylton tweeted, “I didn’t see a single instance of violence or aggression on the lawn or at the student encampment.”

“The only moments of conflict or aggression I witnessed took place beyond the gates, out on Broadway Ave.,” she added. When asked if the people in question were students at Columbia or Barnard, Hylton said, they all answered no.

Watch the interview with Hirsi in the video above.

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