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Pro-Palestinian protests sweep US college campuses following mass arrests at Columbia

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Pro-Palestinian protests sweep US college campuses following mass arrests at Columbia
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Pro-Palestinian protests sweep US college campuses following mass arrests at Columbia

2024-04-23 20:21 Last Updated At:20:30

NEW YORK (AP) — Columbia canceled in-person classes, dozens of protesters were arrested at New York University and Yale, and the gates to Harvard Yard were closed to the public Monday as some of the most prestigious U.S. universities sought to defuse campus tensions over Israel's war with Hamas.

More than 100 pro-Palestinian demonstrators who had camped out on Columbia’s green were arrested last week, and similar encampments have sprouted up at universities around the country as schools struggle with where to draw the line between allowing free expression while maintaining safe and inclusive campuses.

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Pro-Palestinian protesters begin to set up tents in front of Sproul Hall during a planned protest on the campus of UC Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., on Monday, April 22, 2024. Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters staged a demonstration in front of Sproul Hall where they set up a tent encampment and are demanding a permanent cease-fire in the war between Israel and Gaza. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group via AP)

NEW YORK (AP) — Columbia canceled in-person classes, dozens of protesters were arrested at New York University and Yale, and the gates to Harvard Yard were closed to the public Monday as some of the most prestigious U.S. universities sought to defuse campus tensions over Israel's war with Hamas.

A Pro-Palestinian protester holds a Palestinian flag while in front of Sproul Hall during a protest on the campus of UC Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., on Monday, April 22, 2024. Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters staged a demonstration in front of Sproul Hall where they set up a tent encampment and are demanding a permanent cease-fire in the war between Israel and Gaza. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group via AP)

A Pro-Palestinian protester holds a Palestinian flag while in front of Sproul Hall during a protest on the campus of UC Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., on Monday, April 22, 2024. Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters staged a demonstration in front of Sproul Hall where they set up a tent encampment and are demanding a permanent cease-fire in the war between Israel and Gaza. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group via AP)

Pro-Palestinian protesters gather in front of Sproul Hall during a protest on the campus of UC Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., on Monday, April 22, 2024. Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters staged a demonstration in front of Sproul Hall where they set up a tent encampment and are demanding a permanent cease-fire in the war between Israel and Gaza. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group via AP)

Pro-Palestinian protesters gather in front of Sproul Hall during a protest on the campus of UC Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., on Monday, April 22, 2024. Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters staged a demonstration in front of Sproul Hall where they set up a tent encampment and are demanding a permanent cease-fire in the war between Israel and Gaza. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group via AP)

Pro-Palestinians protesters begin to set up tents in front of Sproul Hall during a planned protest on the campus of UC Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., Monday, April 22, 2024. Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters staged a demonstration in front of Sproul Hall where they set up a tent encampment and are demanding a permanent cease-fire in the war between Israel and Gaza. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group via AP)

Pro-Palestinians protesters begin to set up tents in front of Sproul Hall during a planned protest on the campus of UC Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., Monday, April 22, 2024. Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters staged a demonstration in front of Sproul Hall where they set up a tent encampment and are demanding a permanent cease-fire in the war between Israel and Gaza. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group via AP)

UC Berkeley law student Malak Afaneh speaks to a large crowd of pro-Palestinian protesters during a protest on the campus of UC Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., Monday, April 22, 2024. Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters staged a demonstration in front of Sproul Hall where they set up a tent encampment and are demanding a permanent cease-fire in the war between Israel and Gaza. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group via AP)

UC Berkeley law student Malak Afaneh speaks to a large crowd of pro-Palestinian protesters during a protest on the campus of UC Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., Monday, April 22, 2024. Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters staged a demonstration in front of Sproul Hall where they set up a tent encampment and are demanding a permanent cease-fire in the war between Israel and Gaza. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group via AP)

Pro-Palestinian protesters gather in front of Sproul Hall during a planned protest on the campus of UC Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., on Monday, April 22, 2024. Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters staged a demonstration in front of Sproul Hall where they set up a tent encampment and are demanding a permanent cease-fire in the war between Israel and Gaza. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group via AP)

Pro-Palestinian protesters gather in front of Sproul Hall during a planned protest on the campus of UC Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., on Monday, April 22, 2024. Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters staged a demonstration in front of Sproul Hall where they set up a tent encampment and are demanding a permanent cease-fire in the war between Israel and Gaza. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group via AP)

Pro-Palestinian protesters gather in front of Sproul Hall during a protest on the campus of UC Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., on Monday, April 22, 2024. Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters staged a demonstration in front of Sproul Hall where they set up a tent encampment and are demanding a permanent cease-fire in the war between Israel and Gaza. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group via AP)

Pro-Palestinian protesters gather in front of Sproul Hall during a protest on the campus of UC Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., on Monday, April 22, 2024. Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters staged a demonstration in front of Sproul Hall where they set up a tent encampment and are demanding a permanent cease-fire in the war between Israel and Gaza. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group via AP)

A sign sits erected at the Pro-Palestine protest encampment at the Columbia University campus in New York on Monday April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah) (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

A sign sits erected at the Pro-Palestine protest encampment at the Columbia University campus in New York on Monday April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah) (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

A sign is displayed in front of the tents erected at the Pro-Palestine protest encampment at the Columbia University campus in New York on Monday April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

A sign is displayed in front of the tents erected at the Pro-Palestine protest encampment at the Columbia University campus in New York on Monday April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Tents stand erected at the Pro-Palestine protest encampment at the Columbia University campus in New York on Monday April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah) (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Tents stand erected at the Pro-Palestine protest encampment at the Columbia University campus in New York on Monday April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah) (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Congressman Jared Moskowitz with Congresswoman Kathy Manning, Congressman and Congressman Dan Goldman, speaks at a press conference regarding recent anti-semitism directed towards jewish students studying at Columbia University in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Congressman Jared Moskowitz with Congresswoman Kathy Manning, Congressman and Congressman Dan Goldman, speaks at a press conference regarding recent anti-semitism directed towards jewish students studying at Columbia University in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology student Isa Liggans, of Odenton, Md., front left, takes part in Muslim prayer with others Monday, April 22, 2024, at an encampment of tents at MIT, in Cambridge, Mass. Students at MIT set up the encampment of tents on campus to protest what they said was MIT's failure to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and to cut ties to Israel's military. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology student Isa Liggans, of Odenton, Md., front left, takes part in Muslim prayer with others Monday, April 22, 2024, at an encampment of tents at MIT, in Cambridge, Mass. Students at MIT set up the encampment of tents on campus to protest what they said was MIT's failure to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and to cut ties to Israel's military. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Congressman Josh Gottheimer with Congressman Jared Moskowitz, Congresswoman Kathy Manning and Congressman Dan Goldman, speaks at a press conference regarding recent anti-semitism directed towards jewish students studying at Columbia University in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Congressman Josh Gottheimer with Congressman Jared Moskowitz, Congresswoman Kathy Manning and Congressman Dan Goldman, speaks at a press conference regarding recent anti-semitism directed towards jewish students studying at Columbia University in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Columbia University professors rally in solidarity with their students rights to protest free from arrest at the Columbia University campus in New York on Monday April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Columbia University professors rally in solidarity with their students rights to protest free from arrest at the Columbia University campus in New York on Monday April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Student protesters sit in front of a tent during the Pro-Palestinian protest at the Columbia University campus in New York, Monday April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Student protesters sit in front of a tent during the Pro-Palestinian protest at the Columbia University campus in New York, Monday April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

New York University students and pro-Palestinian supporters rally outside the NYU Stern School of Business building, Monday, April 22, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

New York University students and pro-Palestinian supporters rally outside the NYU Stern School of Business building, Monday, April 22, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Congressman Josh Gottheimer with Congresswoman Kathy Manning speaks at a press conference regarding recent anti-semitism directed towards jewish students studying at Columbia University in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Congressman Josh Gottheimer with Congresswoman Kathy Manning speaks at a press conference regarding recent anti-semitism directed towards jewish students studying at Columbia University in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

The New School students and pro-Palestinian supporters rally outside The New School University Center building, Monday, April 22, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

The New School students and pro-Palestinian supporters rally outside The New School University Center building, Monday, April 22, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

New York University students and pro-Palestinian supporters rally outside the NYU Stern School of Business building, Monday, April 22, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

New York University students and pro-Palestinian supporters rally outside the NYU Stern School of Business building, Monday, April 22, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology student, center, does school work on his computer while seated with others, Monday, April 22, 2024, at an encampment of tents on the MIT campus, in Cambridge, Mass. Students at MIT set up the encampment to protest what they said was MIT's failure to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and to cut ties to Israel's military. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology student, center, does school work on his computer while seated with others, Monday, April 22, 2024, at an encampment of tents on the MIT campus, in Cambridge, Mass. Students at MIT set up the encampment to protest what they said was MIT's failure to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and to cut ties to Israel's military. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

A sign outside Harvard Yard warns that only those with Harvard IDs can enter the yard, outside Harvard University Monday, April 22, 2024, in Cambridge, Mass. The sign also cautions that any structures, like the tents and tables used at protests at other colleges, aren't allowed without permission and students caught violating the policies are subject to disciplinary action. (AP Photo/Steve LeBlanc)

A sign outside Harvard Yard warns that only those with Harvard IDs can enter the yard, outside Harvard University Monday, April 22, 2024, in Cambridge, Mass. The sign also cautions that any structures, like the tents and tables used at protests at other colleges, aren't allowed without permission and students caught violating the policies are subject to disciplinary action. (AP Photo/Steve LeBlanc)

Columbia University professors speak in solidarity with their students rights to protest free from arrest at the Columbia University campus in New York on Monday April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Columbia University professors speak in solidarity with their students rights to protest free from arrest at the Columbia University campus in New York on Monday April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Deputy Commissioner of Legal Matters Michael Gerber speaks at a press conference regarding recent Israel-Palestinian protests at Columbia University in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Deputy Commissioner of Legal Matters Michael Gerber speaks at a press conference regarding recent Israel-Palestinian protests at Columbia University in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Columbia University assistant professor Shai Davidai, reads the names of Israeli hostages held by Hamas after being denied access to the main campus, to prevent him from accessing the lawn currently occupied by pro-Palestine student demonstrators in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Columbia University assistant professor Shai Davidai, reads the names of Israeli hostages held by Hamas after being denied access to the main campus, to prevent him from accessing the lawn currently occupied by pro-Palestine student demonstrators in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Yale University Police remain at Beinecke Plaza following the arrest of pro-Palestinian supporters in New Haven, Conn. April 22, 2024. (Ned Gerard/Hearst Connecticut Media via AP)

Yale University Police remain at Beinecke Plaza following the arrest of pro-Palestinian supporters in New Haven, Conn. April 22, 2024. (Ned Gerard/Hearst Connecticut Media via AP)

Several hundred students and pro-Palestinian supporters rally at the intersection of Grove and College Streets, in front of Woolsey Hall on the campus of Yale University in New Haven, Conn. April 22, 2024. (Ned Gerard/Hearst Connecticut Media via AP)

Several hundred students and pro-Palestinian supporters rally at the intersection of Grove and College Streets, in front of Woolsey Hall on the campus of Yale University in New Haven, Conn. April 22, 2024. (Ned Gerard/Hearst Connecticut Media via AP)

Several hundred students and pro-Palestinian supporters rally at the intersection in front of Woolsey Hall on the campus of Yale University in New Haven, Conn. April 22, 2024. (Ned Gerard/Hearst Connecticut Media via AP)

Several hundred students and pro-Palestinian supporters rally at the intersection in front of Woolsey Hall on the campus of Yale University in New Haven, Conn. April 22, 2024. (Ned Gerard/Hearst Connecticut Media via AP)

Several hundred students and pro-Palestinian supporters rally at the intersection of Grove and College Streets, in front of Woolsey Hall on the campus of Yale University in New Haven, Conn. April 22, 2024. (Ned Gerard/Hearst Connecticut Media via AP)

Several hundred students and pro-Palestinian supporters rally at the intersection of Grove and College Streets, in front of Woolsey Hall on the campus of Yale University in New Haven, Conn. April 22, 2024. (Ned Gerard/Hearst Connecticut Media via AP)

Columbia University assistant professor Shai Davidai, is denied access to the main campus after his security card was deactivated, to prevent him from accessing the lawn currently occupied by pro-Palestine student demonstrators in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Columbia University assistant professor Shai Davidai, is denied access to the main campus after his security card was deactivated, to prevent him from accessing the lawn currently occupied by pro-Palestine student demonstrators in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Columbia University assistant professor Shai Davidai, is denied access to the main campus after his security card was deactivated, to prevent him from accessing the lawn currently occupied by pro-Palestine student demonstrators in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Columbia University assistant professor Shai Davidai, is denied access to the main campus after his security card was deactivated, to prevent him from accessing the lawn currently occupied by pro-Palestine student demonstrators in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Columbia University assistant professor Shai Davidai, is denied access to the main campus after his security card was deactivated, to prevent him from accessing the lawn currently occupied by pro-Palestine student demonstrators in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Columbia University assistant professor Shai Davidai, is denied access to the main campus after his security card was deactivated, to prevent him from accessing the lawn currently occupied by pro-Palestine student demonstrators in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Columbia University assistant professor Shai Davidai, is denied access to the main campus after his security card was deactivated, to prevent him from accessing the lawn currently occupied by pro-Palestine student demonstrators in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Columbia University assistant professor Shai Davidai, is denied access to the main campus after his security card was deactivated, to prevent him from accessing the lawn currently occupied by pro-Palestine student demonstrators in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Columbia University assistant professor Shai Davidai, is denied access to the main campus after his security card was deactivated, to prevent him from accessing the lawn currently occupied by pro-Palestine student demonstrators in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Columbia University assistant professor Shai Davidai, is denied access to the main campus after his security card was deactivated, to prevent him from accessing the lawn currently occupied by pro-Palestine student demonstrators in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Columbia University assistant professor Shai Davidai, left, is denied access to the main campus after his security card was deactivated, to prevent him from accessing the lawn currently occupied by pro-Palestine student demonstrators in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Columbia University assistant professor Shai Davidai, left, is denied access to the main campus after his security card was deactivated, to prevent him from accessing the lawn currently occupied by pro-Palestine student demonstrators in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Columbia University assistant professor Shai Davidai, reads the names of Israeli hostages held by Hamas after being denied access to the main campus, to prevent him from accessing the lawn currently occupied by pro-Palestine student demonstrators in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Columbia University assistant professor Shai Davidai, reads the names of Israeli hostages held by Hamas after being denied access to the main campus, to prevent him from accessing the lawn currently occupied by pro-Palestine student demonstrators in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Columbia University assistant professor Shai Davidai, speaks after being denied access to the main campus, to prevent him from accessing the lawn currently occupied by pro-Palestine student demonstrators, in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Columbia University assistant professor Shai Davidai, speaks after being denied access to the main campus, to prevent him from accessing the lawn currently occupied by pro-Palestine student demonstrators, in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Pro-Israel demonstrators chant "Shame" in support of Columbia University assistant professor Shai Davidai, who was denied access to the main campus to prevent him from accessing the lawn currently occupied by pro-Palestine student demonstrators in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Pro-Israel demonstrators chant "Shame" in support of Columbia University assistant professor Shai Davidai, who was denied access to the main campus to prevent him from accessing the lawn currently occupied by pro-Palestine student demonstrators in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

FILE - New York City police in riot gear stand guard outside the Columbia University campus after clearing the campus of protesters, April 18, 2024, in New York. Columbia University canceled in-person classes Monday, April 22, 2024 and police arrested several dozen protesters at Yale University as tensions on U.S. college campuses continue to grow over the war in the Middle East. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, file)

FILE - New York City police in riot gear stand guard outside the Columbia University campus after clearing the campus of protesters, April 18, 2024, in New York. Columbia University canceled in-person classes Monday, April 22, 2024 and police arrested several dozen protesters at Yale University as tensions on U.S. college campuses continue to grow over the war in the Middle East. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, file)

FILE - A woman walks by a Yale sign reflected in the rainwater on the Yale University campus, Aug. 22, 2021, in New Haven, Conn. Columbia University canceled in-person classes Monday, April 22, 2024 and police arrested several dozen protesters at Yale University as tensions on U.S. college campuses continue to grow over the war in the Middle East. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey, File)

FILE - A woman walks by a Yale sign reflected in the rainwater on the Yale University campus, Aug. 22, 2021, in New Haven, Conn. Columbia University canceled in-person classes Monday, April 22, 2024 and police arrested several dozen protesters at Yale University as tensions on U.S. college campuses continue to grow over the war in the Middle East. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey, File)

At New York University, an encampment set up by students swelled to hundreds of protesters throughout the day Monday. The school said it warned the crowd to leave, then called in the police after the scene became disorderly and the university said it learned of reports of “intimidating chants and several antisemitic incidents.” Shortly after 8:30 p.m., officers began making arrests.

“It’s a really outrageous crackdown by the university to allow the police to arrest students on our own campus," said New York University law student Byul Yoon.

“Antisemitism is never OK. That’s absolutely not what we stand for and that’s why there are so many Jewish comrades that are here with us today,” Yoon said.

The protests have pitted students against one another, with pro-Palestinian students demanding that their schools condemn Israel's assault on Gaza and divest from companies that sell weapons to Israel. Some Jewish students, meanwhile, say much of the criticism of Israel has veered into antisemitism and made them feel unsafe, and they point out that Hamas is still holding hostages taken during the group's Oct. 7 invasion.

Tensions remained high Monday at Columbia, where the campus gates were locked to anyone without a school ID and where protests broke out both on campus and outside.

U.S. Rep. Kathy Manning, a Democrat from North Carolina who was visiting Columbia with three other Jewish members of Congress, told reporters after meeting with students from the Jewish Law Students Association that there was “an enormous encampment of people” who had taken up about a third of the green.

“We saw signs indicating that Israel should be destroyed,” she said after leaving the Morningside Heights campus. Columbia announced Monday that courses at the Morningside campus will offer virtual options for students when possible, citing safety as their top priority.

A woman inside the campus gates led about two dozen protesters on the street outside in a chant of, "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” — a charged phrase that can mean vastly different things to different groups. A small group of pro-Israel counter demonstrators protested nearby.

University President Minouche Shafik said in a message to the school community Monday that she was “deeply saddened” by what was happening on campus.

“To deescalate the rancor and give us all a chance to consider next steps, I am announcing that all classes will be held virtually on Monday,” Shafik wrote, noting that students who don’t live on campus should stay away.

Protests have roiled many college campuses since Hamas’ deadly attack on southern Israel, when militants killed about 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and took roughly 250 hostages. During the ensuing war, Israel has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, according to the local health ministry, which doesn’t distinguish between combatants and non-combatants but says at least two-thirds of the dead are children and women.

On Sunday, Elie Buechler, a rabbi for the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Learning Initiative at Columbia, sent a WhatsApp message to nearly 300 Jewish students recommending they go home until it’s safer for them on campus.

The latest developments came ahead of the Monday evening start of the Jewish holiday of Passover.

Nicholas Baum, a 19-year-old Jewish freshman who lives in a Jewish theological seminary building two blocks from Columbia's campus, said protesters over the weekend were "calling for Hamas to blow away Tel Aviv and Israel.” He said some of the protesters shouting antisemitic slurs were not students.

“Jews are scared at Columbia. It’s as simple as that," he said. “There’s been so much vilification of Zionism, and it has spilled over into the vilification of Judaism.”

The protest encampment sprung up at Columbia on Wednesday, the same day that Shafik faced bruising criticism at a congressional hearing from Republicans who said she hadn't done enough to fight antisemitism. Two other Ivy League presidents resigned months ago following widely criticized testimony they gave to the same committee.

In her statement Monday, Shafik said the Middle East conflict is terrible and that she understands that many are experiencing deep moral distress.

“But we cannot have one group dictate terms and attempt to disrupt important milestones like graduation to advance their point of view,” Shafik wrote.

Over the coming days, a working group of deans, school administrators and faculty will try to find a resolution to the university crisis, noted Shafik, who didn't say when in-person classes would resume.

U.S. House Republicans from New York urged Shafik to resign, saying in a letter Monday that she had failed to provide a safe learning environment in recent days as “anarchy has engulfed the campus.”

In Massachusetts, a sign said Harvard Yard was closed to the public Monday. It said structures, including tents and tables, were only allowed into the yard with prior permission. “Students violating these policies are subject to disciplinary action,” the sign said. Security guards were checking people for school IDs.

The same day, the Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee said the university’s administration suspended their group. In the suspension notice provided by the student organization, the university wrote that the group's April 19 demonstration had violated school policy, and that the organization failed to attend required trainings after they were previously put on probation.

The Palestine Solidarity Committee said in a statement that they were suspended over technicalities and that the university hadn't provided written clarification on the university's policies when asked.

“Harvard has shown us time and again that Palestine remains the exception to free speech," the group wrote in a statement.

Harvard did not respond to an email request for comment.

At Yale, police officers arrested about 45 protesters and charged them with misdemeanor trespassing, said Officer Christian Bruckhart, a New Haven police spokesperson. All were being released on promises to appear in court later, he said.

Protesters set up tents on Beinecke Plaza on Friday and demonstrated over the weekend, calling on Yale to end any investments in defense companies that do business with Israel.

In a statement to the campus community on Sunday, Yale President Peter Salovey said university officials had spoken to the student protesters multiple times about the school’s policies and guidelines, including those regarding speech and allowing access to campus spaces.

School officials said they gave protesters until the end of the weekend to leave Beinecke Plaza. The said they again warned protesters Monday morning and told them that they could face arrest and discipline, including suspension, before police moved in.

A large group of demonstrators regathered after Monday's arrests at Yale and blocked a street near campus, Bruckhart said. There were no reports of any violence or injuries.

Prahlad Iyengar, an MIT graduate student studying electrical engineering, was among about two dozen students who set up a tent encampment on the school’s Cambridge, Massachusetts, campus Sunday evening. They are calling for a cease-fire and are protesting what they describe as MIT’s “complicity in the ongoing genocide in Gaza,” he said.

Perry reported from Meredith, New Hampshire, and Collins reported from Hartford, Connecticut. Associated Press writers Steve LeBlanc in Boston and Susan Haigh in Hartford contributed to this report.

Pro-Palestinian protesters begin to set up tents in front of Sproul Hall during a planned protest on the campus of UC Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., on Monday, April 22, 2024. Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters staged a demonstration in front of Sproul Hall where they set up a tent encampment and are demanding a permanent cease-fire in the war between Israel and Gaza. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group via AP)

Pro-Palestinian protesters begin to set up tents in front of Sproul Hall during a planned protest on the campus of UC Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., on Monday, April 22, 2024. Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters staged a demonstration in front of Sproul Hall where they set up a tent encampment and are demanding a permanent cease-fire in the war between Israel and Gaza. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group via AP)

A Pro-Palestinian protester holds a Palestinian flag while in front of Sproul Hall during a protest on the campus of UC Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., on Monday, April 22, 2024. Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters staged a demonstration in front of Sproul Hall where they set up a tent encampment and are demanding a permanent cease-fire in the war between Israel and Gaza. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group via AP)

A Pro-Palestinian protester holds a Palestinian flag while in front of Sproul Hall during a protest on the campus of UC Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., on Monday, April 22, 2024. Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters staged a demonstration in front of Sproul Hall where they set up a tent encampment and are demanding a permanent cease-fire in the war between Israel and Gaza. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group via AP)

Pro-Palestinian protesters gather in front of Sproul Hall during a protest on the campus of UC Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., on Monday, April 22, 2024. Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters staged a demonstration in front of Sproul Hall where they set up a tent encampment and are demanding a permanent cease-fire in the war between Israel and Gaza. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group via AP)

Pro-Palestinian protesters gather in front of Sproul Hall during a protest on the campus of UC Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., on Monday, April 22, 2024. Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters staged a demonstration in front of Sproul Hall where they set up a tent encampment and are demanding a permanent cease-fire in the war between Israel and Gaza. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group via AP)

Pro-Palestinians protesters begin to set up tents in front of Sproul Hall during a planned protest on the campus of UC Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., Monday, April 22, 2024. Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters staged a demonstration in front of Sproul Hall where they set up a tent encampment and are demanding a permanent cease-fire in the war between Israel and Gaza. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group via AP)

Pro-Palestinians protesters begin to set up tents in front of Sproul Hall during a planned protest on the campus of UC Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., Monday, April 22, 2024. Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters staged a demonstration in front of Sproul Hall where they set up a tent encampment and are demanding a permanent cease-fire in the war between Israel and Gaza. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group via AP)

UC Berkeley law student Malak Afaneh speaks to a large crowd of pro-Palestinian protesters during a protest on the campus of UC Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., Monday, April 22, 2024. Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters staged a demonstration in front of Sproul Hall where they set up a tent encampment and are demanding a permanent cease-fire in the war between Israel and Gaza. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group via AP)

UC Berkeley law student Malak Afaneh speaks to a large crowd of pro-Palestinian protesters during a protest on the campus of UC Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., Monday, April 22, 2024. Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters staged a demonstration in front of Sproul Hall where they set up a tent encampment and are demanding a permanent cease-fire in the war between Israel and Gaza. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group via AP)

Pro-Palestinian protesters gather in front of Sproul Hall during a planned protest on the campus of UC Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., on Monday, April 22, 2024. Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters staged a demonstration in front of Sproul Hall where they set up a tent encampment and are demanding a permanent cease-fire in the war between Israel and Gaza. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group via AP)

Pro-Palestinian protesters gather in front of Sproul Hall during a planned protest on the campus of UC Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., on Monday, April 22, 2024. Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters staged a demonstration in front of Sproul Hall where they set up a tent encampment and are demanding a permanent cease-fire in the war between Israel and Gaza. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group via AP)

Pro-Palestinian protesters gather in front of Sproul Hall during a protest on the campus of UC Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., on Monday, April 22, 2024. Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters staged a demonstration in front of Sproul Hall where they set up a tent encampment and are demanding a permanent cease-fire in the war between Israel and Gaza. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group via AP)

Pro-Palestinian protesters gather in front of Sproul Hall during a protest on the campus of UC Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., on Monday, April 22, 2024. Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters staged a demonstration in front of Sproul Hall where they set up a tent encampment and are demanding a permanent cease-fire in the war between Israel and Gaza. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group via AP)

A sign sits erected at the Pro-Palestine protest encampment at the Columbia University campus in New York on Monday April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah) (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

A sign sits erected at the Pro-Palestine protest encampment at the Columbia University campus in New York on Monday April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah) (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

A sign is displayed in front of the tents erected at the Pro-Palestine protest encampment at the Columbia University campus in New York on Monday April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

A sign is displayed in front of the tents erected at the Pro-Palestine protest encampment at the Columbia University campus in New York on Monday April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Tents stand erected at the Pro-Palestine protest encampment at the Columbia University campus in New York on Monday April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah) (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Tents stand erected at the Pro-Palestine protest encampment at the Columbia University campus in New York on Monday April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah) (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Congressman Jared Moskowitz with Congresswoman Kathy Manning, Congressman and Congressman Dan Goldman, speaks at a press conference regarding recent anti-semitism directed towards jewish students studying at Columbia University in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Congressman Jared Moskowitz with Congresswoman Kathy Manning, Congressman and Congressman Dan Goldman, speaks at a press conference regarding recent anti-semitism directed towards jewish students studying at Columbia University in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology student Isa Liggans, of Odenton, Md., front left, takes part in Muslim prayer with others Monday, April 22, 2024, at an encampment of tents at MIT, in Cambridge, Mass. Students at MIT set up the encampment of tents on campus to protest what they said was MIT's failure to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and to cut ties to Israel's military. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology student Isa Liggans, of Odenton, Md., front left, takes part in Muslim prayer with others Monday, April 22, 2024, at an encampment of tents at MIT, in Cambridge, Mass. Students at MIT set up the encampment of tents on campus to protest what they said was MIT's failure to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and to cut ties to Israel's military. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Congressman Josh Gottheimer with Congressman Jared Moskowitz, Congresswoman Kathy Manning and Congressman Dan Goldman, speaks at a press conference regarding recent anti-semitism directed towards jewish students studying at Columbia University in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Congressman Josh Gottheimer with Congressman Jared Moskowitz, Congresswoman Kathy Manning and Congressman Dan Goldman, speaks at a press conference regarding recent anti-semitism directed towards jewish students studying at Columbia University in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Columbia University professors rally in solidarity with their students rights to protest free from arrest at the Columbia University campus in New York on Monday April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Columbia University professors rally in solidarity with their students rights to protest free from arrest at the Columbia University campus in New York on Monday April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Student protesters sit in front of a tent during the Pro-Palestinian protest at the Columbia University campus in New York, Monday April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Student protesters sit in front of a tent during the Pro-Palestinian protest at the Columbia University campus in New York, Monday April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

New York University students and pro-Palestinian supporters rally outside the NYU Stern School of Business building, Monday, April 22, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

New York University students and pro-Palestinian supporters rally outside the NYU Stern School of Business building, Monday, April 22, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Congressman Josh Gottheimer with Congresswoman Kathy Manning speaks at a press conference regarding recent anti-semitism directed towards jewish students studying at Columbia University in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Congressman Josh Gottheimer with Congresswoman Kathy Manning speaks at a press conference regarding recent anti-semitism directed towards jewish students studying at Columbia University in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

The New School students and pro-Palestinian supporters rally outside The New School University Center building, Monday, April 22, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

The New School students and pro-Palestinian supporters rally outside The New School University Center building, Monday, April 22, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

New York University students and pro-Palestinian supporters rally outside the NYU Stern School of Business building, Monday, April 22, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

New York University students and pro-Palestinian supporters rally outside the NYU Stern School of Business building, Monday, April 22, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology student, center, does school work on his computer while seated with others, Monday, April 22, 2024, at an encampment of tents on the MIT campus, in Cambridge, Mass. Students at MIT set up the encampment to protest what they said was MIT's failure to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and to cut ties to Israel's military. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology student, center, does school work on his computer while seated with others, Monday, April 22, 2024, at an encampment of tents on the MIT campus, in Cambridge, Mass. Students at MIT set up the encampment to protest what they said was MIT's failure to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and to cut ties to Israel's military. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

A sign outside Harvard Yard warns that only those with Harvard IDs can enter the yard, outside Harvard University Monday, April 22, 2024, in Cambridge, Mass. The sign also cautions that any structures, like the tents and tables used at protests at other colleges, aren't allowed without permission and students caught violating the policies are subject to disciplinary action. (AP Photo/Steve LeBlanc)

A sign outside Harvard Yard warns that only those with Harvard IDs can enter the yard, outside Harvard University Monday, April 22, 2024, in Cambridge, Mass. The sign also cautions that any structures, like the tents and tables used at protests at other colleges, aren't allowed without permission and students caught violating the policies are subject to disciplinary action. (AP Photo/Steve LeBlanc)

Columbia University professors speak in solidarity with their students rights to protest free from arrest at the Columbia University campus in New York on Monday April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Columbia University professors speak in solidarity with their students rights to protest free from arrest at the Columbia University campus in New York on Monday April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Deputy Commissioner of Legal Matters Michael Gerber speaks at a press conference regarding recent Israel-Palestinian protests at Columbia University in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Deputy Commissioner of Legal Matters Michael Gerber speaks at a press conference regarding recent Israel-Palestinian protests at Columbia University in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Columbia University assistant professor Shai Davidai, reads the names of Israeli hostages held by Hamas after being denied access to the main campus, to prevent him from accessing the lawn currently occupied by pro-Palestine student demonstrators in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Columbia University assistant professor Shai Davidai, reads the names of Israeli hostages held by Hamas after being denied access to the main campus, to prevent him from accessing the lawn currently occupied by pro-Palestine student demonstrators in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Yale University Police remain at Beinecke Plaza following the arrest of pro-Palestinian supporters in New Haven, Conn. April 22, 2024. (Ned Gerard/Hearst Connecticut Media via AP)

Yale University Police remain at Beinecke Plaza following the arrest of pro-Palestinian supporters in New Haven, Conn. April 22, 2024. (Ned Gerard/Hearst Connecticut Media via AP)

Several hundred students and pro-Palestinian supporters rally at the intersection of Grove and College Streets, in front of Woolsey Hall on the campus of Yale University in New Haven, Conn. April 22, 2024. (Ned Gerard/Hearst Connecticut Media via AP)

Several hundred students and pro-Palestinian supporters rally at the intersection of Grove and College Streets, in front of Woolsey Hall on the campus of Yale University in New Haven, Conn. April 22, 2024. (Ned Gerard/Hearst Connecticut Media via AP)

Several hundred students and pro-Palestinian supporters rally at the intersection in front of Woolsey Hall on the campus of Yale University in New Haven, Conn. April 22, 2024. (Ned Gerard/Hearst Connecticut Media via AP)

Several hundred students and pro-Palestinian supporters rally at the intersection in front of Woolsey Hall on the campus of Yale University in New Haven, Conn. April 22, 2024. (Ned Gerard/Hearst Connecticut Media via AP)

Several hundred students and pro-Palestinian supporters rally at the intersection of Grove and College Streets, in front of Woolsey Hall on the campus of Yale University in New Haven, Conn. April 22, 2024. (Ned Gerard/Hearst Connecticut Media via AP)

Several hundred students and pro-Palestinian supporters rally at the intersection of Grove and College Streets, in front of Woolsey Hall on the campus of Yale University in New Haven, Conn. April 22, 2024. (Ned Gerard/Hearst Connecticut Media via AP)

Columbia University assistant professor Shai Davidai, is denied access to the main campus after his security card was deactivated, to prevent him from accessing the lawn currently occupied by pro-Palestine student demonstrators in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Columbia University assistant professor Shai Davidai, is denied access to the main campus after his security card was deactivated, to prevent him from accessing the lawn currently occupied by pro-Palestine student demonstrators in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Columbia University assistant professor Shai Davidai, is denied access to the main campus after his security card was deactivated, to prevent him from accessing the lawn currently occupied by pro-Palestine student demonstrators in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Columbia University assistant professor Shai Davidai, is denied access to the main campus after his security card was deactivated, to prevent him from accessing the lawn currently occupied by pro-Palestine student demonstrators in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Columbia University assistant professor Shai Davidai, is denied access to the main campus after his security card was deactivated, to prevent him from accessing the lawn currently occupied by pro-Palestine student demonstrators in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Columbia University assistant professor Shai Davidai, is denied access to the main campus after his security card was deactivated, to prevent him from accessing the lawn currently occupied by pro-Palestine student demonstrators in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Columbia University assistant professor Shai Davidai, is denied access to the main campus after his security card was deactivated, to prevent him from accessing the lawn currently occupied by pro-Palestine student demonstrators in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Columbia University assistant professor Shai Davidai, is denied access to the main campus after his security card was deactivated, to prevent him from accessing the lawn currently occupied by pro-Palestine student demonstrators in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Columbia University assistant professor Shai Davidai, is denied access to the main campus after his security card was deactivated, to prevent him from accessing the lawn currently occupied by pro-Palestine student demonstrators in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Columbia University assistant professor Shai Davidai, is denied access to the main campus after his security card was deactivated, to prevent him from accessing the lawn currently occupied by pro-Palestine student demonstrators in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Columbia University assistant professor Shai Davidai, left, is denied access to the main campus after his security card was deactivated, to prevent him from accessing the lawn currently occupied by pro-Palestine student demonstrators in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Columbia University assistant professor Shai Davidai, left, is denied access to the main campus after his security card was deactivated, to prevent him from accessing the lawn currently occupied by pro-Palestine student demonstrators in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Columbia University assistant professor Shai Davidai, reads the names of Israeli hostages held by Hamas after being denied access to the main campus, to prevent him from accessing the lawn currently occupied by pro-Palestine student demonstrators in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Columbia University assistant professor Shai Davidai, reads the names of Israeli hostages held by Hamas after being denied access to the main campus, to prevent him from accessing the lawn currently occupied by pro-Palestine student demonstrators in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Columbia University assistant professor Shai Davidai, speaks after being denied access to the main campus, to prevent him from accessing the lawn currently occupied by pro-Palestine student demonstrators, in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Columbia University assistant professor Shai Davidai, speaks after being denied access to the main campus, to prevent him from accessing the lawn currently occupied by pro-Palestine student demonstrators, in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Pro-Israel demonstrators chant "Shame" in support of Columbia University assistant professor Shai Davidai, who was denied access to the main campus to prevent him from accessing the lawn currently occupied by pro-Palestine student demonstrators in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Pro-Israel demonstrators chant "Shame" in support of Columbia University assistant professor Shai Davidai, who was denied access to the main campus to prevent him from accessing the lawn currently occupied by pro-Palestine student demonstrators in New York on Monday, April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

FILE - New York City police in riot gear stand guard outside the Columbia University campus after clearing the campus of protesters, April 18, 2024, in New York. Columbia University canceled in-person classes Monday, April 22, 2024 and police arrested several dozen protesters at Yale University as tensions on U.S. college campuses continue to grow over the war in the Middle East. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, file)

FILE - New York City police in riot gear stand guard outside the Columbia University campus after clearing the campus of protesters, April 18, 2024, in New York. Columbia University canceled in-person classes Monday, April 22, 2024 and police arrested several dozen protesters at Yale University as tensions on U.S. college campuses continue to grow over the war in the Middle East. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, file)

FILE - A woman walks by a Yale sign reflected in the rainwater on the Yale University campus, Aug. 22, 2021, in New Haven, Conn. Columbia University canceled in-person classes Monday, April 22, 2024 and police arrested several dozen protesters at Yale University as tensions on U.S. college campuses continue to grow over the war in the Middle East. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey, File)

FILE - A woman walks by a Yale sign reflected in the rainwater on the Yale University campus, Aug. 22, 2021, in New Haven, Conn. Columbia University canceled in-person classes Monday, April 22, 2024 and police arrested several dozen protesters at Yale University as tensions on U.S. college campuses continue to grow over the war in the Middle East. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey, File)

Next Article

Rapsody's brave new album 'Please Don't Cry' displays strength through vulnerability

2024-05-25 00:48 Last Updated At:00:50

NEW YORK (AP) — If truth has the power to set one free, then Rapsody’s new album, “Please Don’t Cry,” has removed her from emotional imprisonment and gifted her immeasurable liberation.

“People put up a mirror for me. I sat in the mirror myself…it was the beginning of healing. Heart-broke: Why do you feel like you can’t fill the void of whatever that was? Internally, why do you feel underappreciated?” questioned the three-time Grammy nominee. "And really allow myself, again, to just sit in a fire and burn. To forgive myself for some things. To accept some things. To learn to love myself."

Rapsody's not only frequently lauded by critics as the best female lyricist, but also as one of the best in the genre. After 2019’s critically-acclaimed “Eve” album, discussions by hip-hop purists erupted on social media and in barbershops near and far debating her potentially rivaling Kendrick Lamar for the lyrical throne. But the recognition hasn’t translated into the commercial success of some female peers — veterans like Nicki Minaj and Cardi B, or recent newcomers like Megan Thee Stallion, Latto or Ice Spice. But her plight isn’t unusual for rappers labeled as “continuous” or extremely lyrical, regardless of gender.

“I was looking at what everybody else was doing instead of worrying about myself,” she said, soft-spoken throughout the interview. “I’d see comments (saying), ‘She makes great music, but she’ll never make it because she’s not half-naked or she don’t have a No. 1 hit.’ And I had to realize that those are really false measurements.”

“Please Don’t Cry,” released in May, is by far the most personal of her four studio albums. Dwindling more than 350 potential songs down to the final 22 tracks, the bulk of the production comes from HIT-BOY, BLK ODYSSY and S1, and boasts star-powered features including Erykah Badu and Lil Wayne. The regal voice of Phylicia Rashad is also sprinkled throughout.

The North Carolina native began constructing the album several years ago after a painful breakup and toward the beginning of the global coronavirus pandemic. Personal tales have always lived within her music, but the foundation of her catalogue is anchored by expert lyricism and musicality.

“I’ve always thought that I was authentic. But at the same time, I realized there was a level of fear there — a fear of allowing myself to be seen completely. But at that time, I don’t even think I completely even knew who I was,” said the 41-year-old Marlanna Evans who kept Lauryn Hill’s “MTV Unplugged No. 2.0” project in heavy rotation while creating, along with an evolving Pinterest board filled with pictures and words for inspiration.

“Please Don't Cry” has a weightier R&B influence than past projects. Standout tracks include the Badu-assisted “3:AM,” the lead single “Asteroids,” “Stand Tall,” “Faith” and “God’s Light.” While her razor-sharp bars still slice on songs like “Raw” with Lil Wayne and Niko Brim, the album makes its mark by entering a new territory of unapologetic vulnerability. Rapsody touches on insecurities, not having a stronger female fanbase, family members battling dementia and speculation surrounding her sexuality.

On the surprisingly transparent “That One Time,” the past Stevie Wonder, Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole collaborator provides a rare glimpse into her love life and past transgressions.

“One time, I had an experience with a woman. But I also bring up that I was with somebody that wasn’t available,” said the Jehovah’s Witness-raised artist of her relationship with a married person, while suggesting her partner wasn't fully honest. “I make mistakes, too — things I say I would never do, and then I find myself in a situation that I’m not proud of. But in my life and the conversations I have, I know I’m not the only one.”

Bianca Edwards, vice president of marketing for Roc Nation, says the vulnerability displayed showcases Rapsody’s security in her music and herself.

“You have to be extremely confident to bare your soul and not care what people think,” said Edwards. “And on this project, I think that she bared a lot.”

Always advocating for female rappers, Rapsody has consistently rejected praise meant to criticize her peers. But while there are songs like “Look What You’ve Done” in which she rhymes, “Don’t lift me up throwin’ shade/At my sisters that made it out wit’ a-- and bass,” she also raps, “Everything look cookie cutter/We seen enough a—, that sh-- ain’t special no more” on “Diary of a Mad Bitch.”

“I see my name brought up a lot of times used to put other women down for how they choose to show up in this art and in their life, and I’m not here for that. I’m not trying to make myself the standard. I’m just trying to make myself another example of what women in hip-hop look like to bring harmony,” said Rapsody. “With ‘Diary,’ it was me making an observation of everybody looks the same…I know we’re not clones.”

But despite a profession where cosmetic enhancements are common among female rappers – along with sexually-charged lyrics that contribute to their pop stardom – the “Complexion (A Zulu Love)” artist says she's never considered altering her body.

“My question is why isn’t there space for me or others who are different from what we see on a mainstream level…why don’t we get those same opportunities?” asked the self-described tomboy who also suffers from Graves’ disease which can change physical appearance. “I never wanted to be anything other than who I was.”

Rapsody says while every artist dreams of creating a hit record, she’s not willing to compromise her musical integrity or chase songs that don’t feel natural to attract more fans.

“I think she already found her place,” said Edwards. “I work with a lot of artists, and I’ve met artists that are still trying to find themselves. That’s not Rap.”

A tour will launch in September with five European dates and a North American leg that will run through October.

“Please Don’t Cry” has fortified Rapsody's healing journey, and she’s better for it.

“Everybody asks me about this album, like ‘How you feeling?’ I say I feel really happy and I’m at peace. And this is the most free I’ve ever felt,” she said. “I’m not putting pressure on myself to be defined as success through other people’s measurements of what that looks like.”

Follow Associated Press entertainment journalist Gary Gerard Hamilton at: @GaryGHamilton on all his social media platforms.

Rapsody poses for a portrait on Tuesday, May 7, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Gary Gerard Hamilton)

Rapsody poses for a portrait on Tuesday, May 7, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Gary Gerard Hamilton)

Rapsody poses for a portrait on Tuesday, May 7, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Gary Gerard Hamilton)

Rapsody poses for a portrait on Tuesday, May 7, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Gary Gerard Hamilton)

Rapsody poses for a portrait on Tuesday, May 7, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Gary Gerard Hamilton)

Rapsody poses for a portrait on Tuesday, May 7, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Gary Gerard Hamilton)

Rapsody poses for a portrait on Tuesday, May 7, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Gary Gerard Hamilton)

Rapsody poses for a portrait on Tuesday, May 7, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Gary Gerard Hamilton)

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