Organizers deny UVic safety concern claims amid clashes at pro-Palestine camp

Organizers deny UVic safety concern claims amid clashes at pro-Palestine camp
The pro-Palestine camp is pictured at UVic on May 16, 2024

While it was quiet at the pro-Palestine encampment at the University of Victoria on Thursday, the camp has been a target of violence, and a source of safety issues, according to the university.

On May 7, a man tried to muscle his way into the encampment. He left, but allegedly threatened the protestors on his way out.

A spokesperson for the encampment said the man came back with a vengeance.

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“Eventually he returned and attempted to enter the camp, physically assaulting numerous people, including faculty members, and including students, including staff.”

The protestors contacted campus security after the first encounter. After the second assault, Saanich Police were called in.

Then, just two days ago, another incident on campus that prompted a heavy police response.

Saanich police arrested a man with a knife who threatened staff at the First Peoples’ House.

Police said at the time the incident was not connected to the encampment.

However, in a statement Wednesday, UVic president Kevin Hall made a connection between the encampment with incidents of disorder, and violence, mentioning the knife arrest and vandalism.

READ MORE: UVic president issues statement amid ongoing protest, arrest of knife-wielding man

The protesters, through their spokesperson, said none of Hall’s statements are true. They insist they are nothing but peaceful.

“We can see that they are refusing to engage with us in an earnest, and in good faith, and instead are spinning these truths and weaving these lies that are framing us as accumulating violence, and bringing people into the campus, and thus making it unsafe,” said the spokesperson, who wanted to remain anonymous.

But the protestors have their supporters on campus, including Astrid Brousselle, Professor, School of Public Administration. “We agree that there is a lot of disinformation taking place. Students have not invited homeless people to join the camp. This is a wrong information. ”

Brousselle said there needs to be collaboration between the protestors, UVic administration,  UVic security, and Saanich Police to ensure the community’s safety.

“I think they are doing what they can to raise awareness on this genocide, and at the moment we need to listen to what they say,” she said.

And students on campus say the responsibility for safety and security of the UVic community ultimately lies with the university.

Our requests to interview someone from UVic Thursday were denied.

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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