Campus LifeNews

Edmonton Police Service takes down Palestine solidarity encampment

According to U of A political science professor David Kahane, occupants were told those involved are banned from campus for one year. The encampment was completely dispersed as of 7:30 a.m. on May 11.

As of 7:30 a.m. on May 11, the Palestine solidarity encampment was completely dispersed from the University of Alberta Main Quad with three arrests made.

An update was put out by U of A President and Vice-chancellor Bill Flanagan on the morning of May 11. The update read that “almost all of the occupants of the encampment peacefully dispersed.” Additionally, the update said that at the time of the encampment’s clearance, there were approximately 40 tents and 50 people, with “fewer than 25 per cent of the occupants” being U of A students.

At 9:00 a.m., a peace officer told The Gateway that the Main Quad is inaccessible. Officers were stationed at the entrances to the Main Quad.

Occupants were approached by U of A Protective Services (UAPS) at 9:00 p.m. on May 10 with a disbandment notice. The Gateway was provided with a physical copy of the notice. It told occupants of the encampment to leave campus.

“Should you stay you may face student non-academic disciplinary action or employee disciplinary action, as well as potential arrest,” the notice read.

At around 5:00 a.m., Edmonton Police Services (EPS) began sweeping the encampment while deploying tear gas, according to an account of events posted by the People’s University for Palestine YEG. According to their posts, protestors were pushed back to the Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Science (CCIS) before ending up on Saskatchewan drive.

In a text sent to The Gateway from David Kahane, a political science professor at the U of A, Kahane said that during the sweeping, UAPS Threat Assessment Program and Investigations Manager Frank Page “announced that all involved were now banned from campus for one year.” A video of the announcement was posted by Independent Jewish Voices Edmonton.

After publication, at 2:44 p.m. on May 11, U of A media relations responded to The Gateway and said “no members of the U of A community who were involved in the May 9 – 11 encampment have been banned from campus and no students were suspended.”

“Every member of the university community should loudly protest,” Kahane says

Those participating in the encampment planned to stay until their demands for the U of A and MacEwan University were met. Occupants demanded the universities to disclose financial investments with Israeli institutions, divest from those investments, provide amnesty for protestors, and condemn “the current genocide of Palestinians.”

Flanagan’s statement said that the encampment was informed multiple times that they are allowed to protest on university property if there are no temporary structures set up, and protestors don’t stay overnight.

“Of great concern, some members of the group brought in wood pallets, materials known to be used as barricade-making materials — actions that are counter to peaceful, law-abiding protests,” the statement read. The statement said that “approved, peaceful protests are welcome,” but they must abide by university policies, the law, and public safety regulations.

According to Kahane, the wood pallets were removed from the encampment at UAPS’ request eight hours before the encampment was cleared.

Additionally, the university’s statement said the “vast majority of those present complied with the police direction and decamped peacefully from university property,” except for two people with no connection to the U of A. According to the statement, the police reported no injuries.

“This is untrue,” Kahane said. “I personally saw bleeding wounds from baton strikes and bruises from non-lethal munitions.” He added that one individual had to seek emergency treatment for injuries.

Kahane called on the U of A to “withdraw [the] threatened sanctions immediately,” and said that “every member of the university community should loudly protest.”

UPDATE: At 3:17 p.m. on May 11, additional information was added to reflect a response from U of A media relations, which The Gateway received after publication.

Lily Polenchuk

Lily Polenchuk is the 2024-25 Editor-in-Chief of The Gateway. She previously served as the 2023-24 Managing Editor, 2023-24 and 2022-23 News Editor, and 2022-23 Staff Reporter. She is in her second year, studying English and political science.

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