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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke May 7, 2024

Misspelled ‘free Palastine’ spray-painted at Canadian school, not Columbia University

If Your Time is short

  • This image was taken at the University of Ottawa in Canada, not New York-based Columbia University.

An image of the misspelled phrase "Free Palastine" painted on steps leading up to a six-column building is being wielded in criticism against Columbia University, the New York-based college where a nationwide pro-Palestinian protest movement started several weeks ago.

"Palestine misspelled on the stairs of Columbia really captures the state of higher education," one May 7 X post said. 

The image is a still photo from singer Macklemore’s newly released music video, visible around the 10-second mark. The song, "Hind’s Hall," refers to Hamilton Hall, a Columbia University building that student activists occupied and called "Hind’s Hall" in remembrance of 6-year-old Hind Rajab, who was killed in Gaza.

But the steps of the building that says "Free Palastine" in the music video don’t lead to Hind’s Hall, or any building on Columbia’s campus. 

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It’s Tabaret Hall at the University of Ottawa in Canada. The numbers "550" in the building’s address — 550 Cumberland St. — are visible in university images of the hall and in the music video just before the moment that’s pictured in the X post. 

Photos of the painted steps also appear on the website and X account of The Fulcrum, the University of Ottawa’s independent student newspaper.

"UPDATE: The steps in front of Tabaret Hall were spray painted by a protester, who was then chased by security," a May 1 X post from the newspaper said. "Witnesses tell the Fulcrum that the individual was picked up by a waiting vehicle."

We rate claims this photo shows Columbia University False.


Our Sources

X post, May 7, 2024 

Macklemore X post, May 6, 2024

New York, Behind the Barricades at Columbia’s Hamilton Hall Takeover, May 1, 2024

Vulture, Macklemore, the Lone Rapper With Some Sense Right Now, May 6, 2024

The Associated Press, Timeline of the nationwide protest movement that began at Columbia University, May 6, 2024

University of Ottawa post, Tabaret Hall (TBT), visited May 7, 2024

The Fulcrum, ‘A simple meeting is the first step’: reviewing Day 3 of U of O’s student encampment, May 1, 2024

The Fulcrum, Week One Recap: University of Ottawa’s student-led Sit-in turned Encampment for Palestine, May 6, 2024

X post, May 1, 2024

Columbia University, Hamilton Hall, visited May 7, 2024


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Misspelled ‘free Palastine’ spray-painted at Canadian school, not Columbia University

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