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Police in riot gear use flash-bang explosives to clear campus protesters in Calgary

Using shields, batons and flash-bang explosives, Calgary police officers forcibly removed a group of protesters Thursday night from an encampment set up on the University of Calgary campus.

Most of the large group of pro-Palestinian protesters at the tent site agreed to pack up and leave shortly before police began to move against those who remained at the site outside MacEwan Hall — the home of the university’s student centre.

As the packing was underway, a Calgary Police Service (CPS) member assured one of the protest leaders that no one would be arrested if they left. 

They were also told they could return to the university on Friday, provided they don’t bring any “encampments, barricades or obstructions.”

But not all of the people at the encampment agreed. A smaller group of protesters remained on scene, singing “we shall not be moved.”

At roughly 11:10 p.m. MT, shortly after giving a five-minute warning, police used their shields and bicycles, keeping up a rhythmic push, to drive the few dozen remaining protesters out of the encampment area.

At several moments, protesters attempted to resist the police action. CPS members responded by throwing flash-bangs, which produced both loud noises and smoke. Several protesters were heard coughing as many fled the area.

WATCH | Police forcibly remove protesters from U of C encampment:

University of Calgary pro-Palestinian protesters clash with police

1 day ago

Duration 0:50

Calgary police move in to clear an encampment set up by protesters at the University of Calgary after giving multiple warnings for them to leave.

Ten minutes after beginning the clearance, police had completely emptied the area.

In a statement released shortly after midnight, CPS said the use of the flash-bangs was triggered by the actions of the protesters.

“Projectiles and assaultive behaviour by the remaining protestors triggered the use of non-lethal munitions by officers,” the statement said. 

“No injuries have been reported. The number of arrests, tickets and charges will be made publicly available tomorrow.”

University officials said in a statement to CBC News late Thursday that the protesters had been told several times through the day that temporary structures were not permitted.

“Members of the campus community are free to protest, but they are not free to camp,” the university said.

WATCH | Police and protesters discuss breaking up U of C encampment: 

Pro-Palestinian protesters negotiate with Calgary police under threat of arrest

1 day ago

Duration 1:19

Calgary police spoke with organizers of the pro-Palestinian encampment recently set up at the University of Calgary, which the school says violates its policies about temporary structures and overnight protests.

In a post to the social platform X, CPS said they were notified at 6:30 a.m. MT on Thursday by campus security that protesters had set up tents on the south lawn of MacEwan Hall.

The post said the protesters were asked to leave and, when they refused, were informed they were trespassing. The protesters still refused to leave, CPS said, and police were then called in for assistance.

According to the student-led group behind the encampment, it has set up on campus to get the attention of the university’s senior leadership, including president Edward McCauley and interim provost Penny Werthner.

Students want divestment

Like other recent university protests, those involved say students at the U of C are demonstrating to demand officials disclose and sever any ties the school has with Israel.

It comes after the Hamas attack on Israel last fall led to the capture of more than 250 hostages and killed around 1,200 people, according to Israeli officials. According to the Gaza Health Ministry, Israel’s retaliatory bombing campaign and ground offensive have killed more than 34,000 Palestinians — many of them civilians, including children.

“We’ve been asking the U of C to review their investments, to make their investments more public, to make sure that we know what’s going on, where the money’s going — our tuition money,” said Mohammad Arhaam Mukati, president and co-founder of the U of C’s Palestinian Advocacy Club, who is involved with the encampment. 

“They’re not asking for much. What they are asking for is crucial. It’s important. It’s significant.”

WATCH | Unverified video from earlier in the night when police arrived on scene: 

The list of demands is outlined in the statement issued by the organizing groups. They are asking the U of C to disclose all of its direct and indirect investments involving Israel. 

They are also calling for a “complete and continued divestment [from] corporations that develop military technology in order to profit from wars globally, all corporations that play a role in suppressing Indigenous peoples globally and all corporations that have links to regimes under investigation by the International Criminal Court.”

Further, the organizers are urging the university to adopt a definition of anti-Palestinian racism on campus with a zero-tolerance policy, and support Palestinian students’ mental wellness and academic success.

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