Daily Caller: Eric Holder Participated in Armed Takeover of Columbia ROTC Office as a Student

Future U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is seen in the 1973 yearbook of Columbia University in New York City. (Photo: University Archives, Columbia University in the City of New York via the Daily Caller)

The Daily Caller is reporting that the nation’s highest-ranking law enforcement official, Attorney General Eric Holder, participated in what has been described by some as an “armed” takeover of Columbia University’s Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) office in 1970.

Apparently Holder was one of the leaders of the Student Afro-American Society (SAAS) that demanded the abandoned ROTC center be transformed into the “Malcom X Lounge.”

Holder described the five-day event during a 2010 commencement speech: “[Several] of us took one of our concerns — that black students needed a designated space to gather on campus — to the Dean [of Freshmen]’office. This being Columbia, we proceeded to occupy that office.”

Holder, however, recalls the event as being “peaceful.”

The Daily Caller continues:

The details of the student-led occupation, including the claim that the raiders were “armed,” come from a deleted Web page of the Black Students’ Organization (BSO) at Columbia, a successor group to the SAASContemporary newspaper accounts in The Columbia Daily Spectator, a student newspaper, did not mention weapons.

[...]

Though then-Dean Carl Hovde declared the occupation of the Naval ROTC office illegal and said it violated university policy, the college declined to prosecute any of the students involved.  This decision may have been made to avoid a repeat of violent Columbia campus confrontations between police and members of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) in 1968.

The ROTC headquarters was ultimately renamed the Malcolm X lounge as the SAAS organization demanded.  It later became a hang-out spot for another future U.S. leader, Barack Obama, according to David Maraniss’ best-selling ”Barack Obama: The Story.” [Emphasis added]

In 1968– soon before Holder arrived on campus– the SAAS collaborated with the SDS to prevent a gymnasium from being built, and briefly held Dean Henry Coleman hostage.  As recently as 2010, according to the Daily Caller, the perpetrators were described as “armed with guns.”

Daily Caller: Eric Holder Participated in Armed Takeover of Columbia ROTC Office as a Student

(Getty Images File Photo)

Here’s the relevant section from the now-deleted article:

In 1970, a group of armed black students seized the abandoned ROTC office on the first floor of Hartley Hall. The students, joined by the then State Senator David Patterson renamed the space the Malcolm X lounge, in honor of a man who recognized the importance of territory as a basis for nationhood. Subsequently, murals were painted on the walls depicting black leaders such as Marcus Garvey and Sekou Toure.

But that’s not all.  The SAAS was also openly supportive of the Black Panthers, it seems, and Holder soon joined another group that bullied professors who failed to support affirmative action.

The Daily Caller continues:

In March 1970 the SAAS released a statement supporting twenty-one Black Panthers charged with plotting to blow up department stores, railroad tracks, a police station and the New York Botanical Gardens.

[...]

The April 21, 1970 SAAS raid on the Naval ROTC office and Dean Coleman’s office came one month after the Black Panther arrests.  The Columbia Daily Spectator released a series of demands from the student leaders on April 23 in which they claimed to be occupying the ROTC office for the purpose of “self-determination and dignity.”  They needed the space, they said, because of “the general racist nature of American society.”

Holder also joined the Black American Law Students Association in 1973, the Daily Caller relates, where he took part in pressuring six Columbia professors into retracting their letter to President Ford disagreeing with affirmative action.

“Merit should be rewarded, without regard to race, sex, creed, or any other external factor,” the professors wrote, but changed their stance due to what two professors described as the “rhetoric and names hurled” at them.

Eric Holder’s detractors note that much of the story is not unexpected for the current attorney general.  Still a staunch supporter of affirmative action, Holder has also come under heavy fire for failing to take action against the New Black Panthers for alleged voter intimidation in 2008.

(H/T: Daily Caller)