‘We have the power’: Occupy UW claim victory amidst takedown of pro-Palestinian encampment at university

By CityNews Kitchener Staff

After two months of protesting and pushback, the Pro-Palestinian encampment at the University of Waterloo has been disbanded.

It comes after officials from the University of Waterloo said it will withdraw their claim and injunction against the protesters once organizers vacate the encampment.

A press conference was held Sunday at 11 a.m. by organizers of the encampment.

Nicholas Joseph, spokesperson for Occupy UW said that the lawsuit against Occupy UW was quote “anti-Palestinian racism” from those in power at the University of Waterloo.

“You cannot exist without us,” said Joseph. “This embarrassing conclusion for you is undeniable evidence that we have the power and that you will concede to our demands.”

Sarah Ahmed, another member of Occupy UW said the group is not done fighting and still seeks divestment of the university from Israeli backed institutions.

“The University of Waterloo well be forced to reckon with the power of our collective student voice, they will be forced to boycott and divest.” said Ahmed. “This is a long fight and we are one victory closure to winning.”

The student-organized protest has been on the university campus since May 13. The encampment was organized to protest the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.

On social media, Occupy UW stated that “community pressure” forced the university to drop the $1.5 million lawsuit against the students.

On May 22nd, encampment organizers received a notice to end the encampment “immediately”.

The notice outlined various university policy infractions that had taken place. This included installing flags, banners and plywood barricades without permission or authorization. The university also requested to inspect the encampment for safety compliance, but that was refused. At the time, a spokesperson for the university said that the notice was “not a legal eviction document and it should also not be considered a legal instrument.”

During a June UW senate meeting, the university’s senate approved three motions to support its efforts to improve transparency around its investment policies.

On June 18, protesters interrupted a UW Board of Governors meeting which led to the meeting being cancelled altogether and the university calling the police. The school said it was cancelled because of “concern for everyone’s safety.”

The university announced on June 25, that they were taking legal action to end the encampment on university grounds. The statement of claim said the university was seeking damages of $1.5 million including damages for trespass, damage to property, intimidation, and ejectment.

Three days after the lawsuit was announced, the university said it had entered into mediation with the encampment organizers.

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