July 14th, 2024

Demonstrators take down some tents at UofT encampment, plan rally ahead of deadline

By The Canadian Press on July 3, 2024.

A tent is seen in the pro-Palestinian encampment at the University of Toronto, on Tuesday, July 2, 2024. The Toronto Police Service says it will enforce a court order granted yesterday that says demonstrators at a pro-Palestinian protest encampment at the University of Toronto must dismantle the site by 6 p.m. today. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

TORONTO – Pro-Palestinian demonstrators at a University of Toronto campus encampment have started to take down tarps and tents as they face down a court order to dismantle the site.

Demonstrators say they plan to hold a rally on Wednesday afternoon ahead of a 6 p.m. deadline set out in Tuesday’s court order.

Sara Rasikh, who has acted as an encampment spokesperson, says demonstrators have started to remove some valuables from the encampment in anticipation of possible police action but organizers are still discussing their next steps.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Markus Koehnen’s decision issued Tuesday says while there is no evidence the encampment participants have been violent or antisemitic, the demonstration has taken away the university’s ability to control what happens in the area known as King’s College Circle.

Koehnen says property owners generally decide what happens on their property, and if protesters can take that power for themselves, there is nothing to stop a stronger group from coming and taking over the space from the current protesters.

He says that leads to chaos, and his order gives police the authority to arrest and remove anyone who knows about it, which contradicts it.

Police said in a brief statement yesterday evening that the 6 p.m. deadline applies to the protesters.

The protesters set up camp on May 2 and previously said they would stay put until the school agrees to their demands, which include disclosing and divesting from investments in companies profiting from Israel’s offensive in Gaza.

The court ruling said the university has procedures in place to consider divestment requests and has offered the protesters an expedited process.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 3, 2024

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