Thursday, May 23, 2024

Pro-Palestinian protesters erect tents at U of O | CBC News

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Nearly two dozen tents popped up on the University of Ottawa campus between Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning as protesters call on the school to end its investment in companies and organizations with ties to Israel.

What started off as a sit-in earlier this week had become an encampment by late Tuesday when a group called INSAF uOttawa erected tents on the lawn in front of Tabaret Hall at the corner of Laurier Avenue E. and Cumberland Street.

“We’re asking the university to disclose their investments,” said U of O student Sumayya Kheireddine, one of the pro-Palestinian protest organizers.

Protesters had erected nearly two dozen tents in front of Tabaret Hall at the University of Ottawa by Wednesday morning. (Rosalie Sinclair/Radio-Canada)

But she said so far it’s been “radio silence” from the university, she said. 

“The people were upset and they wanted to be heard, and the decision was we’re escalating and if that’s what it’s going to take, that’s what it’s going to take.”

The university’s most recent disclosure of its investments was in 2022, she said.

Kheireddine said the group is made up primarily of students and recent alumni from both the U of O and Carleton University. She estimated up to 50 people had spent the previous night in tents.

The group’s name, INSAF, comes from an Arabic word meaning justice or equity.

A man with a black and white scarf.
Tom Deadman, another organizer, said protesters are hoping police aren’t called in to remove them like at Columbia University in New York City. (Matéo Garcia-Tremblay/Radio-Canada)

“We felt that we needed to escalate,” said Tom Deadman, another U of O student taking part.

He said the group wants to send a strong message to the university “that we’re here for as long as it takes until they’re listening to those demands.”

  • Just Asking wants to know: What questions do you have about the rights of protesters and the limits of peaceful protest? Fill out the details on this form and send us your questions ahead of our show on May 4.

The university’s associate vice-president of student affairs Eric Bercier has warned there would be serious consequences if an encampment was set up.

Similar occupations have been taking place at universities across the United States and Canada, including at McGill University in Montreal where school administrators have asked local police for help.

Two students at McGill have requested an injunction to halt protests near campus buildings.

At Columbia University in New York City, police cleared pro-Palestinian demonstrators from inside a campus building. Police there said they planned to lay trespassing and burglary charges against some of those involved.

WATCH | Police enter Columbia University and arrest protesters: MEDIA]

Ottawa police told CBC on Wednesday morning officers are monitoring the situation, but said there have been no requests from the university for police to step in.

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