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Business titans privately urged NYC mayor to use police on Columbia protesters, chats show

A group of billionaires and business titans working to shape U.S. public opinion of the war in Gaza privately pressed New York City's mayor last month to send police to disperse pro-Palestinian protests at Columbia University, according to communications obtained by The Washington Post and people familiar with the group.

Business executives including Kind snack company founder Daniel Lubetzky, hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb, billionaire Len Blavatnik and real estate investor Joseph Sitt held a Zoom video call on April 26 with Mayor Eric Adams (D), about a week after the mayor first sent New York police to Columbia's campus, a log of chat messages shows. During the call, some attendees discussed making political donations to Adams, as well as how the chat group's members could pressure Columbia's president and trustees to permit the mayor to send police to the campus to handle protesters, according to chat messages summarizing the conversation.

One member of the WhatsApp chat group told The Post he donated $2,100, the maximum legal limit, to Adams that month. Some members also offered to pay for private investigators to assist New York police in handling the protests, the chat log shows - an offer a member of the group reported in the chat that Adams accepted. The New York Police Department is not using and has not used private investigators to help manage protests, a spokeswoman for City Hall said.


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