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Police clear York University protest encampment a day after it emerges

Written by on June 6, 2024

TORONTO — Toronto police say they’ve cleared a pro-Palestinian protest encampment at York University a day after it was established.

Police say the university reached out to them Wednesday to ask for assistance and then served protesters with a trespass notice Thursday.

They say officers moved to enforce trespassing law Thursday morning and roughly 40 demonstrators left the encampment “as directed.”

Police say one person returned and was arrested under trespassing law.

In a statement posted on social media, however, protesters say the encampment was “violently cleared” without warning or opportunity to talk with administrators.

The statement says demonstrators continue to demand that the university disclose and divest from any investments in companies profiting from Israel’s offensive in Gaza, among other things.

The group was expected to hold a rally on campus Thursday afternoon.

Similar encampments on university campuses have cropped up across Canada in recent months, with several schools considering or taking legal action against the protesters.

Last week, police said trespassing law did not give them the authority to clear an encampment at the University of Toronto, adding they would only do so in an emergency or to enforce a court order.

Police spokesperson Stephanie Sayer says the timing and circumstances at each university are different, and the force must assess every situation before determining what authority it has under the law.

She noted the U of T encampment was established on May 2 and a trespass notice wasn’t issued until more than three weeks later.

“As time went on, the protestors at the University of Toronto were provided accommodations (such as providing portable toilets and washroom access) and grew in size,” she said in a statement.

U of T is seeking an injunction to allow police to clear the site. A hearing is expected later this month at the earliest.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 6, 2024.

The Canadian Press