May 27th, 2024

With portable toilets and barricades, Gaza protest camp at UBC digs in for long haul

By The Canadian Press on April 30, 2024.

A student encampment for Pro-Palestinian protesters is shown at the University of British Columbia campus in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 30, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Chiang

VANCOUVER – Pro-Palestinian protesters who set up an encampment at the University of British Columbia campus in Vancouver have brought in food, water and other supplies to prepare for what may become a protracted stay.

The encampment went up Monday and now has supply tents, filled with large quantities of bottled water, food and bedding, while two portable toilets have also been brought in.

About 80 protesters have erected makeshift barriers around the field using materials ranging from metal fences secured with zip ties and overturned picnic tables to piles of wood pallets and traffic barricades fastened with ropes and bungee cords.

One protester who declined to be identified says the group is committed to stay until their demands are met, including an academic boycott of Israeli universities and that UBC divests from Israeli companies that they say are complicit in “oppression and genocide” of Palestinians.

A UBC spokesman said Monday that the protesters have not been given permission to erect barriers, and the school is in contact with police to monitor the situation.

Inside the camp, the atmosphere is festive with music playing and people sitting on lawn chairs or in tents chatting among themselves.

Outside the encampment, people wearing Uber Eats shirts are handing out coupons to those passing by, including protesters coming in and out of the camp.

There was no visible RCMP presence outside the camp Tuesday, and a police spokesman directed comments to UBC, which did not respond immediately to requests for further comment.

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

School officials at McGill say they have asked police to dismantle the camp because activists are refusing to leave the site.

Montreal police say they are evaluating different avenues to respond to the university’s request.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 30, 2024.

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