I thought the hostility of Columbia's neighbors to the university's expansion into Northern Manhattan simply was the usual antagonism between a wealthy school and working class people who think they are unlikely to benefit from the academic presence. There might be more specific causes:
"In the 1990s, African American [and Latino] youths in New York were injected with Fenfluramine -- half of the deadly, discontinued weight loss drug Fen-Phen -- by Columbia researchers investigating a hypothesis about the genetic origins of violence."
That's from a Washington Post review of Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation
on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present. The use of the word "apartheid" seems peculiar, given that what the author focuses on is not the mere refusal to admit African Americans to medical facilities, but the active abuse of their bodies. If African Americans had been neglected only, Tuskegee would have no particular resonance; white people's not providing health care to black people is hardly news. The false assistance given to trusting patients, in the name of "research," is what gets remembered.