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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Columbia faces suit for not protecting custodians from 'bratty' agitators

When pro-Palestine protesters broke into a building at Columbia University, they told custodians they couldn't leave, charged the president of their union, John Samuelson on Fox & Friends. "Imagine that... kind of smarmy, sort of entitled, spoiled, bratty occupiers of the building come in and tell these blue-collar men and women ‘you’re not going anywhere, you’re staying here because this cause is bigger than you’ when they had to get home to their families."

Mario Torres, a Columbia university custodian, confronted James Carlson, 40, during a takeover of Hamilton Hall. Photo: Alex Kent/Getty Images

The union is "exploring legal action against the university and the Hamilton Hall occupiers," wrote Samuelson in a letter to Columbia University President Minouche Shafik, reports Greg Norman. The union demanded the names of protesters arrested in the building.

Custodian Mario Torres, 45, was photographed pushing one of the intruders against a wall. He was trying to "protect the building," he told Francesca Block of the Free Press. “He had a Columbia hoodie on, and I managed to rip that hoodie off of him and expose his face.”

The intruder was "a 40-year-old trust fund kid named James Carlson," writes Block. He ws charged with five felonies, including burglary and reckless endangerment.

Torres has not returned to campus. It's too dangerous, he told Block.

Columbia administrators "were just worried about the protesters -- don't hurt the protesters," said Lester Wilson, another custodian who talked to Block. "What about the safety and security of the workers in the building?

The Hamilton Hall invaders used chairs, tables, vending machines, chains, and zip ties to block entrances or exits, the custodians told Block. “I was held hostage,” Wilson said. He remembers yelling, “Let me out! I’m a worker!”

Four days before the invasion, Wilson discovered a girl hiding in one of the janitor’s closets and reported her to public safety. He told Block his concerns were ignored, and only one guard was posted. “That was the warning right there,” Wilson said. “They should have known.” 

The protesters "didn’t really accomplish anything but destruction and fear," said custodian Jesse Wynne. “Protesting peacefully is one thing,” he said, “but you can’t call this a peaceful protest when you are destroying property. I didn’t mind what they were doing outside, but taking over a building is something different.” 

Wilson and Wynne have returned to work, but they refuse to set foot in Hamilton Hall.

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May 13

Technically refusing to allow someone to leave is kidnapping.


JK Brown
JK Brown
May 13

Keep in mind someone who has lived experience had the following to say about Columbia

A North Korean defector has told Fox News that she fears for the future of the US after attending Columbia University, where she said the atmosphere reminded her of her days under the oppressive Kim regime. --Yeonmi Park, 27,


May 12

One can only hope that our next generation of leaders arises from the ranks of frat boys and custodians.

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