Gaza protesters at UBC barricade themselves in for a long time

The protest at UBC follows a wave of similar rallies and encampments protesting Israel’s Gaza offensive at universities across North America, including McGill University in Montreal.

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VANCOUVER — Pro-Palestinian protesters camped on the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver campus are bringing water, food and other supplies in preparation to stay as long as necessary for the school to accept their demands.

Since then, the camp that was set up on Monday has grown to about 30 tents, some of which are filled with large quantities of bottled water, food and bedding, while two portable toilets have also been set up.

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A spokesman for the protest, who only identified himself as Kevin, said he and others will not leave until their demands are met. Those demands include an academic boycott of Israeli universities and for UBC to divest from Israeli companies they say are complicit in the “oppression and genocide” of Palestinians.

“I’m pretty sure we can stay as long as we need to,” said Kevin, who identified himself as a second-year student at UBC.

“Everyone here talks to each other and supports each other. And we have a lot of food, a lot of water. “We will be here as long as our demands are not met.”

The protest at UBC follows a wave of similar rallies and encampments protesting Israel’s Gaza offensive at universities across North America, including McGill University in Montreal.

There was no visible RCMP presence outside the camp.

UBC spokesperson Matthew Ramsey said in a written statement Tuesday that the school continues to monitor the situation and warned protesters of several violations of university policies.

“These include the removal of items from nearby construction sites and university property, the removal of furniture from nearby university buildings, minor damage to buildings and furniture, and possibly to the turf field, the erection of barricades and the construction of facilities for cooking on UBC property, as well as the removal and possible theft of a Canadian flag from a UBC flagpole,” Ramsey said.

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He said several protesters are not from the school.

“To the extent inappropriate conduct violates one or more University policies, individuals may be subject to University disciplinary processes or other appropriate measures under the University’s discrimination policy or code of student conduct. “.

The response came as McGill school officials said they had asked Montreal police to dismantle the encampment there because activists refuse to leave. Police said they are evaluating different avenues to respond to the university’s request.

At UBC, about 80 protesters have erected makeshift barriers around the field where they pitched their tents, using materials ranging from metal fences secured with zip ties and overturned picnic tables to stacks of wooden pallets and traffic barricades held down with ropes. and elastic cords.

Palestinian flags and banners with slogans such as “Free Palestine” hang near the protest site.

Ramsey had said Monday that protesters had not been given permission to erect barriers and that the school is in contact with police to monitor the situation.

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“Of course, it’s hard not to notice… the other movements in North America and also the growing tensions at McGill so far,” Kevin said, noting that officials have disabled electrical outlets in and around the field where the camp is located.

“Although the university police presence has not been very good and they have been quite hostile towards us, I am still quite confident in how we have handled it quite well. And the field is still alive and well.”

Inside the camp on Tuesday, the atmosphere was festive with music playing and people sitting in lawn chairs or in tents chatting with each other.

Among the protest banners was a sign notifying attendees of available escorts to bathrooms in nearby school buildings, reminding them that they would have to register again to re-enter the camp.

Outside the camp, people in Uber Eats T-shirts hand out coupons to those passing by, including protesters entering and leaving the camp.

On Monday, BC Premier David Eby had asked both school leaders and students to balance the right to free speech on campus and the need for personal safety for people of all backgrounds.

The conflict between Israel and Hamas was sparked by the October 7 Hamas attack in southern Israel, where about 1,200 people were killed and about 250 were taken hostage.

Israel says militants still hold about 100 hostages and the remains of more than 30 more, while the Health Ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza says more than 34,000 Palestinians have been killed in the conflict, and about two-thirds of those deaths are children. and women.

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