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Pro-Palestinian camp protesters counter UVic president's comments

A spokesperson for the encampment said a man arrested this week had no connection to the protest
A pro-Palestinian protest encampment near the McPherson Library at UVic. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Students and faculty involved in a Palestine solidarity encampment at the University of Victoria are pushing back against comments by the university’s president linking the camp to violence and vandalism.

President Kevin Hall issued a statement Wednesday calling people in the encampment “incredibly irresponsible” for inviting people in the community to join them, after a man accused of threatening people on campus with a knife was arrested.

A spokesperson for the encampment said Thursday the man was not associated with the camp, had never entered the camp and had no connection to the peaceful protest.

“Our hearts are with those who are impacted by this incident,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

Saanich police said Tuesday they had made an arrest after a man entered the First Peoples House on campus and threatened people with a knife. No one was physically injured, police said.

The suspect was not believed to be part of the camp, police said.

Hall said in his statement on Wednesday that the man set up a tent next to the First Peoples House after calls from the encampment for people to come join them.

But the camp spokesperson said the man did not set up a tent, adding a tent beside the encampment was not related to the man.

The spokesperson also refuted Hall’s claim that members of the encampment have been unwilling to engage in a dialogue with the university to address topics they’re advocating for, such as responsible investing.

Last time participants met with university administration, they were told those at the meeting would not speak to the group’s demands, the spokesperson said.

“Sending people to a meeting who cannot speak with us about our demands is not thoughtful dialogue or engagement in good faith by the university,” the spokesperson said.

The group wants the university to divest from corporations supporting Israel, cut academic ties in Israel and condemn the ongoing Israeli attacks on Gaza.

“We remind you that there are no universities left in Gaza. We remain encamped at our university to stand in solidarity with Palestine and demand that the University of Victoria ends their complicity in this ongoing genocide. We do not want our tuition dollars funding a genocide,” the spokesperson said.

Faculty members supporting the encampment plan to hold a news conference Friday to speak out against what they say is misinformation.

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