Stephen Colbert Fiercely Defends Campus Protesters From Trump Attack


By the time The Late Show began airing on Tuesday night, police in riot gear had already breached and cleared Columbia University’s Hamilton Hall–which had been occupied by pro-Palestinian student protesters in the early hours of Tuesday morning–while reportedly making dozens of arrests. But just a few miles downtown at the Ed Sullivan Theater, Stephen Colbert was making his support for the young demonstrators known.

“Of course, one of the biggest stories right now is the nationwide, pro-Palestinian student protests around college campuses in the United States,” Colbert explained on Tuesday. “In what’s being called ‘perhaps the most significant student movement since the anti-Vietnam campus protests of the late 1960s.’”

The host went on to explain that tension between students and school administrators, at least at Columbia, began to ramp up a few weeks ago when students began setting up an encampment in order to protest the political happenings in Gaza. In response, university president Minouche Shafik called upon authorities to help remove the students involved, and Colbert is not OK with that.

Noting that the protests were happening at schools across the country, including University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and the Ohio State University, Colbert remarked that “college administrators are using the classic de-escalation tactic of sending in heavily armed police and threatening to call the National Guard.”

“Now even if you don’t agree with the subject of their protests, as long as they are peaceful, subjects should be allowed to protest,” said Colbert to loud cheers from the audience. “It’s their First Amendment right.”

One person who, ironically, seems to not care about these students’ right to free speech or assembly is Donald Trump. On Tuesday night, the former president called into Fox News to rave about the NYPD’s no-nonsense response at Columbia and “the way they walked in” and “were not afraid of anything.”

And before that, Colbert explained, Trump had had the audacity to liken the so-far peaceful campus movement to the deadly events of Charlottesville, where one woman was killed and 35 individuals were injured. Compared to Columbia, Trump called Charlottesville a “little peanut.”

“Now, before you criticize Trump for downplaying one of the darkest chapters in American history as a ‘little peanut,’ I will remind you of this disturbing image from Charlottesville that day,” Colbert replied, cutting to an image of Mr. Peanut himself giving a thumbs up to the “Jews will not replace us!” chanters.

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