NYPD Counterterrorism Unit Investigating Pro-Palestine Student Riot

After students at a New York City high school learned that a teacher had attended a pro-Israel rally, they began rioting in the school’s hallway, forcing the teacher to hide in a locked office for nearly two hours and prompting an investigation from the New York City Police Department’s (NYPD) counterterrorism bureau.

On Monday, hundreds of “radicalized” pro-Palestine students at Hillcrest High School in Queens began a pre-planned riot after seeing a teacher’s Facebook profile picture showing her at the October 9 pro-Israel rally in Queens with a sign reading, “I stand with Israel.”

Speaking with the New York Post, one senior at the school revealed that seeing the teacher’s support for Israel led to a “bunch of kids” creating “a group chat” to “expose her, talk about it, and then talk about starting a riot.”

The NYPD and the school were able to learn of the students’ plan to riot just in time to protect the teacher in a locked office. According to New York City Councilman James Gennaro (D-Queens), the NYPD sent several dozen officers along with its counterterrorism unit to investigate the potential threat against the school.

“Whether it was one student or multiple students who did or said something, whatever the trigger was, something happened,” Gennaro told the outlet, adding: “I know from my many years on the City Council that the counterterrorism task force is not engaged unless they believe it is potentially a serious situation.”

One of the students involved in the riot later shared a video of the incident on the Chinese-owned social media platform TikTok, along with the caption, “POV: your school had 1 lockdown, multiple fights, and riots just because of a teacher that choose [sic] to wake up one day and choose to support against Zionism and occupation.”

The teacher has since issued a statement about the incident.

“I have been a teacher for 23 years in the New York City public school system, for the last seven at Hillcrest High School,” the statement read. “I have worked hard to be supportive of our entire student body and an advocate for our community, and was shaken to my core by the calls to violence against me that occurred online and outside my classroom last week.”

“No one should ever feel unsafe at school. students and teachers alike,” the teacher added. “It’s my hope in the days ahead we can find a way to have meaningful discussions about challenging topics with respect for each other’s diverse perspectives and shared humanity.”

“Unless we can learn to see each other as people we will never be able to create a safe learning community,” her statement concluded.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) also condemned the students’ actions in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“The vile show of antisemitism at Hillcrest High School was motivated by ignorance-fueled hatred, plain and simple, and it will not be tolerated in any of our schools, let alone anywhere else in our city,” he wrote. “We are better than this.”

“NYC Schools is already conducting a full investigation into how this incident took place, and, this week, Project Pivot teams will begin outreach with students at Hillcrest to ensure they understand why this behavior was unacceptable,” Adams wrote in a follow-up post.

“No student, teacher, or staff member should fear for their safety in our schools,” he concluded.