A group of pro-Palestinian protesters at Columbia University have filed a police report after they claimed two students sprayed them with a powerful stink spray.
The New York Police Department confirmed Monday that a report for assault was filed, alleging that the impacted protesters were sprayed Friday with a foul-smelling odor that caused nausea and headaches. The investigation is ongoing, the department said.
Protest organizations Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace — both of which were suspended by the university in November, sparking national outrage — claimed the spray was “Skunk,” a crowd control chemical developed by the Israeli military.
The protest groups said they had identified two people who sprayed protesters, claiming they are Columbia students who disguised themselves in traditional Palestinian keffiyeh scarves.
“Dozens of students have given us testimonies of their clothes and hair having the foul smell left on them even after the initial burst of stench at the protest. The smell only worsens and spreads after being washed,” the groups said in a social media post.
“We, as students facing unrelenting harassment, should not have to be doing the university’s job by investigating these hate crimes on our own,” they continued.
In a second post Monday, the groups said least eight students were hospitalized due to the attack.
“Students are traumatized, sick, and have hospital bills to cover in addition to schoolwork. This is unacceptable,” the groups wrote.
The university department of public safety said it is conducting an investigation alongside local and federal law enforcement of “great concern” after reports Friday and additional reports Sunday.
Columbia announced Monday that the two suspected perpetrators had been banned from campus pending a law enforcement investigation.
The Columbia Spectator reviewed at least 18 reports of putrid smells during the protest, including 10 that alleged physical harm. Three of the protesters sought medical attention, the Spectator reported.
The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations condemned the reported attack Saturday.
“The alleged use of a chemical agent on the grounds of a college campus in NYC is beyond heinous. It is an escalation of violence launched against peaceful protesters by individuals who seek to inflict harm and undermine the principles of peaceful dialogue and dissent upheld in any democratic society,” Executive Director Afaf Nasher said in a statement.
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