U of T anti-Israel protesters pledge resistance after court-ordered eviction
U of T anti-Israel protesters pledge resistance after court-ordered eviction

Organizers of the University of Toronto’s anti-Israel encampment say that despite a court injunction to remove them by Wednesday evening, they will not be silenced.

“No amount of police presence, no threat of legal action, no Zionist threat, and no attempt to smear our movement will deter us from our mission,” said Mohammad Yassin during a press conference held by the OccupyUofT group following the injunction.

“We stand here united, stronger than ever, with a resolve that cannot be shaken.”

The injunction granted by an Ontario court gives police the authority to arrest and remove anyone who refuses to comply with the court order, mandating the encampment’s dismantling by 6:00 pm on Wednesday.

The University of Toronto confirmed that on top of encampments needing to evacuate the premises by 6:00 pm, any further erection of structures between 11:00 pm and 7:00 am without authorization from the university is prohibited.

“We expect those in the encampment to abide by the court order and vacate the encampment before the court-imposed deadline. Anyone who chooses to remain in the encampment after the deadline is subject to consequences under University policy and the law,” said the university.

“The University welcomes vigorous debate and protest. Today’s court order returns Front Campus to the entire University community and prevents any one group from asserting control of a shared space at the University in order to promote a particular view and deprive others of the freedom to express opposing viewpoints,” the university added.

The encampment was established on May 2, and the university issued a trespass notice soon after. The protesters stayed past the deadline, which led the university to seek an expedited case with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice for an injunction order.

“There will be no business as usual on campus until you meet our demands. You can continue trying to get your injunctions. You can call your police; but you cannot stop the people from pushing for justice,” said Sara Rasikh, a graduate student at the University of Toronto.

“This encampment is just one tactic, and we are prepared to employ as many as necessary to achieve our demands.”

Rasikh called on all students and faculty members to join the revolt. She said that the earlier ruling confirmed that the encampment was not antisemitic and that the slogans “From the River to the Sea,” “Glory to the Martyrs,” and the phrase “intifada” were not antisemitic.

An e-petition sponsored by Kevin Vuong argued that each of those chants were genocidal and antisemitic, by wilfully promoting hatred and violence towards the Jewish people. The e-petition received over 12,500 signatures.

Sima Atri, a lawyer representing the pro-Hamas group, said that the injunction did not signify that the encampment was antisemitic. She said that the ruling only stated that because the university was private property, the owners could determine what was allowed on the property.

“Our court system and the use of police to remove people from land is continuously used to try to defend the status quo, and that is the only principle the judge could find to rule in the university’s favour today,” said Atri.

She emphasized that Tuesday’s injunction set no precedent for the legality of other encampments. She said it was specific to the University of Toronto encampment at this specific point in time.

True North previously reported that a Jewish advocate said her removal from McGill’s pro-Hamas encampment proved that encampment protesters were violent. Antisemitic, anti-police, and pro-Hamas messages were also displayed at the University of Ottawa’s anti-Israel encampment.

“We have this legal decision today that is based on private property law. But that is not the end of this movement. That is just a decision on one tactic. And this movement will continue,” said Atri.

After the short press conference, Mackey was repeatedly questioned on whether protesters would remain in the encampment at 6:00 pm when the police arrive. She would not give a specific answer and said that her community needed to discuss the next steps.

“Students have been fighting for these demands since 2006, and they will continue to do so regardless of what happens tomorrow,” said Mackey.

OccupyUofT has done more than just advocate for Palestine. Over the long weekend, they sponsored a movement entitled “F**k Canada Day.”

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