Canadian Security Magazine

Police clear York University protest encampment a day after it emerges

The Canadian Press   

News Campus protest

Toronto police cleared a pro-Palestinian protest encampment at York University on Thursday, a day after it was established, they said.

Police said the university reached out to them Wednesday to ask for assistance and then served protesters with a trespass notice the following day.

Officers moved to enforce trespassing law Thursday morning and roughly 40 demonstrators left the encampment “as directed,” police said.

One person returned and was arrested under trespassing law, they said. That person was given a ticket, they said.

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In a statement posted on social media, however, protesters said the encampment was “violently cleared” without warning or opportunity to talk with administrators.

The statement said demonstrators continue to demand that the university disclose and divest from any investments in companies profiting from Israel’s offensive in Gaza, among other things.

Police spokesperson Stephanie Sayer said there was “no violence whatsoever” in clearing the encampment. Demonstrators were given 10 minutes to leave after the notice was issued, she said.

“The protesters left as directed and were compliant. There was no physical contact,” Sayer said in an email. Any belongings left behind were placed in the care of the university, she added.

Sayer also said the university had previously indicated that protesters did not have permission to set up camp on campus.

The group was expected to hold a rally at the university Thursday afternoon.

Similar encampments on university campuses have cropped up across Canada in recent months, with several schools considering or taking legal action against the protesters.

Last week, police said trespassing law did not give them the authority to clear an encampment at the University of Toronto, adding they would only do so in an emergency or to enforce a court order.

Sayer said the timing and circumstances at each university are different, and the force must assess every situation before determining what authority it has under the law.

She noted the U of T encampment was established on May 2 and a trespass notice wasn’t issued until more than three weeks later.

“As time went on, the protestors at the University of Toronto were provided accommodations (such as providing portable toilets and washroom access) and grew in size,” she said in a statement.

U of T is seeking an injunction to allow police to clear the site. A hearing is expected later this month at the earliest.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 6, 2024.


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