July 20th, 2024

Police say they will enforce judge’s order that U of T encampment must come down

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 – 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.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Markus Koehnen 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.

They said they won’t disclose operational details, but they noted the court order states that police action is at their discretion.

Protesters at the encampment late yesterday would not clarify whether they planned to comply with the court order, but some were removing signs from the outside fences.

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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