Edmonton police dismantle pro-Palestinian encampment at University of Alberta; 3 arrested

By Kelsey Patterson

Edmonton police officers armed with batons moved in early Saturday morning to dismantle the pro-Palestinian encampment at the University of Alberta.

Organizers of the student protest in solidarity with Gaza say multiple demonstrators were seriously injured, though Edmonton police tell CityNews “it is our understanding by speaking with EMS that no one (encampment occupants) sustained any significant injuries.”

Police say three people were arrested, none of whom were U of A students. They are facing charges of assaulting a peace officer, trespassing and obstruction. The officer who was allegedly assaulted sustained a minor injury, police add.

“EPS members did deploy special munitions specifically in relation to the three individuals arrested,” according to police.

Organizers with the group People’s University for Palestine YEG shared nearly a dozen videos and photos of the police operation on its Instagram.

They appear to show the EPS public safety unit sweeping the camp at dawn. In one of the videos, an officer appears to strike two students with a baton as police enter the camp. “Get the (expletive) off of him,” a protester shouts.

A photo purported to show a protester’s bloodied shin was captioned: “BATON WOUND FROM EDMONTON POLICE.”

Organizers allege tear gas was used on students, with one video appearing to show a small cloud of smoke as police move in, followed by students coughing. Edmonton police say “tear gas was not deployed.”

Protesters were completely removed from the campus as of 7:30 a.m., according to organizers.

In a brief statement, Edmonton police say they gave a “final notice” to encampment protesters at 4:35 a.m.

“Following this notice, EPS officers arrived on site and protesters were warned again to leave, and following this, protesters were escorted from university property,” police said.

“This action follows repeated notice to encampment participants by the university that their activities violate university policy and the Trespass to Premises Act.”

The University of Alberta had issued protesters a trespass notice.

University president Bill Flanagan issued a statement Saturday saying “almost all” of the encampment occupants “peacefully dispersed” after the police’s final warning.

“At the time the encampment cleared, there were approximately 40 tents and 50 people. To the best of our knowledge, fewer than 25 per cent of the occupants were University of Alberta students,” Flanagan wrote.

The U of A president cited fire hazards and the risk of escalation and violent clashes with counter-protesters among the reasons for police involvement.

“I know the last two days have been particularly challenging for many in the university’s diverse community,” he added. “The activity on our campus today was not taken lightly and there was no easy path forward for anyone involved.”

The police operation in Edmonton followed a similar one in Calgary Thursday, with police dismantling a pro-Palestinian encampment at the University of Calgary.

“I’ll watch and see what the University of Alberta learns from what they observed in Calgary,” Alberta Premier Danielle Smith said on Friday.

READ MORE: Gaza protest encampment grows on Edmonton campus after Calgary sit-in ended by police

Those protests were two of several recent demonstrations on academic campuses in Canada and the United States in response to Israel’s offensive in Gaza.

Many protesters have demanded institutions make clear if their investments are helping fund Israel and its military in its conflict with Gaza. If so, they want those investments halted.

–With files from The Canadian Press

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today