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Western engaging London Police Liaison Team to deal with encampment

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Officials at Western University are calling in the London Police Service in an effort to end a pro-Palestinian encampment on campus.

In a statement issued Wednesday evening, the school claims safety concerns, including “several incidents of theft, vandalism and assaultive behaviour as well as allegations of hate speech originating from someone with ties to the encampment.”

Protestors however maintain they've been nothing but peaceful.

The Western University divestment coalition encampment was initially planned for a 12-hour protest, but is now into its third week. Approximately 20 tents cover a grassy area in front of the university community centre.

Protestors continue to call for the university to pull financing or involvement with businesses or agencies that support Israel’s military incursion into Gaza.

Western said they are increasingly concerned, and cited what they claim have been mounting incidents of unsafe and “illegal behaviour.”

As a result, the university has engaged the London Police Liaison Team to communicate with encampment organizers.

"We were out there as of yesterday, and we will be out there continuously. We'll be out there again today and will be out there again tonight. So, again, mediate and discuss with both sides,” said Insp. Ryan Scrivens.

The London Police Liaison Team was formed within the last year and has already been deployed a number of times.

"Twenty-four times already, since Jan. 21, so we use them extensively and, similar to our crisis team members that are hand selected, these people are picked,” said Scrivens. “They just have that genuine ability to build rapport with people."

Protestors at the encampment on Thursday morning declined to be interviewed on camera but insist their protest has been peaceful.

"We fully support people's lawful right to protest and to assemble and to speak,” said Scrivens. “We just want to make sure everything is done safely and that it's lawful.”

— With files from CTV News London’s Kristylee Varley 

 

Statement from Western University

"Participants continue to engage in activities that go beyond our expectations for peaceful protest.

There have been several incidents of theft, vandalism and assaultive behaviour as well as allegations of hate speech originating from someone with ties to the encampment. These activities are all being actively investigated.

We cannot stand for any activity that puts our campus community at risk, nor will we tolerate hate of any kind.

Western will always support the rights of our community to protest peacefully. But, as we said last Friday, what’s happening on our campus is no longer in that category."

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