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Individual barred from UVic after protesters alleged repeated assaults

Saanich police opens assault investigation, protesters say same man involved in 3 incidents
Pro-Palestine protesters started an encampment on the University of Victoria campus on May 1. A man has been barred from campus after protesters said he repeatedly assaulted them. (Jake Romphf/Vic News)

Anti-war protesters who have been camped out at the University of Victoria say they’ve been the target of several assaults in recent days, leading to a man being barred from the campus.

The demonstrators on Thursday (May 9) said a man attacked students in the encampment on three occasions over May 7 and 8.

The pro-Palestinian activists said they’ve alerted campus security and the Saanich and Oak Bay police departments about alleged incidents. Saanich police has opened an assault investigation in relation to two of the incidents on May 7.

Like others at campus protests in North America and beyond, UVic protesters are calling on their school to divest from companies that are contributing to “the genocide of Palestinian people,” including those with connections to weapons makers that are supplying Israeli forces.

In a Thursday social media post, the protesters said a man had been circling the encampment – located in the quad outside UVic’s library – every day since May 1 and would often be shouting and making anti-Palestinian comments. The group added its members tried various de-escalation tactics to try and calm the man down.

“However, his violence has escalated over a 24-hour period, and the University has failed to create a safe campus,” the group said in a statement on Instagram.

Multiple encampment members were injured after the protesters alleged the man charged into the site on May 7 and started attacking people. Protesters said the same individual returned hours later and at that point, he punched some people, threatened to kill students and let dogs loose within the camp.

In the third alleged incident, the protesters said the man attacked a member of the encampment on Wednesday as the demonstrator was walking on campus. The group said its member sustained multiple injuries in that event.

Asked if the university had any information about the incidents, a UVic spokesperson told Black Press Media that encampment members contacted campus security on the night of May 7 and asked for their support with an unwelcome and aggressive individual. Campus security and the Saanich police responded after that request.

“The individual was escorted off campus and is restricted from re-entering the property. This individual is not affiliated with the university,” the spokesperson said.

“We take the safety of our community very seriously. If anyone has concerns for their personal safety – both inside and out of the encampment – we encourage them to contact campus security.”

In their statement, protesters said the school did not adhere to several of its own policies regarding safety. They cited an excerpt from UVic’s policy on Prevention of Violence in the Workplace, which states faculty and staff are responsible for maintaining a violence-free environment by “taking safe and effective steps to prevent or stop violence when it happens.”

UVic issued an update regarding the encampment on May 8 that didn’t mention the incidents involving the man. Protesters said the school should’ve informed the public, again citing UVic’s policy booklet.

The university has said it’s committed to working with the encampment members.

After Hamas’ Oct. 7 assault killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, Israel’s responding offensive in Gaza has killed more than 34,500 Palestinians.

READ: Pro-Palestinian student protest demonstrations spread across Europe

Jake Romphf

About the Author: Jake Romphf

In early 2021, I made the move from the Great Lakes to Greater Victoria with the aim of experiencing more of the country I report on.
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