University of Toronto seeks court injunction to clear the continuing pro-palestinian encampment

Pro-Palestinian Encampment. Image credit: X/@mykalla40

Toronto/CMEDIA: Courts are reportedly being asked by the University of Toronto to remove protesters who refuse orders to leave a pro-Palestinian encampment set up on campus earlier this month.

A notice of motion in court aimed to bring an end to the demonstration has been filed by the university saying irreparable harm to the institution has been caused by the encampment.

Among the relief sought, the university asked for an order authorizing police to “arrest and remove persons, objects and structures” who violate the terms of a court order to prevent protesters from blocking access to university property or setting up fences, tents or other structures on campus.

Ignoring a Monday morning deadline set in a trespass notice issued last week, the protesters refused to leave the site, adding they are prepared to fight back with their own legal team.

 While also continuing to negotiate with protesters, U of T president Meric Gertler had asked an expedited case conference.

“In addition to pursuing this legal avenue to return King’s College Circle to the university community, we continue to engage in discussions with students representing those in the encampment,” he wrote in a statement.

“We remain hopeful that we can reach an agreement and bring the unauthorized encampment to an end.”

As the trespass deadline passed, the protesters, who set up tents in a large green space on May 2, at the heart of the university’s downtown campus were joined yesterday by faculty and labour groups for a rally outside the nearby Convocation Hall 

As a drizzle on Monday which turned to heavier rain during the rally, demonstrators huddled under umbrellas and held up flags.

Protesters tried for months to get the university to listen to their demands, said Sara Rasikh, an encampment spokesperson and told the crowd that they only received acknowledgement after setting up the encampment.

Presenting a counter-offer during a meeting between demonstrators and university administrators, the protesters had called on the school to disclose public investments in companies profiting from Israel’s offensive in Gaza.

They also asked the school to establish a joint working group, and let them be a part of it to examine private investments as well as cut ties with two specific Israeli academic institutions.

Ontario Minister of Colleges and Universities Jill Dunlop said Monday she supported clearing the encampment at the University of Toronto.

“We want to ensure this is cleaned up and dealt with right away,” Dunlop said. “Convocation is coming up and this is a safety issue. We want to ensure that families feel safe going on campus and not intimidated to attend the services.”

With similar encampments on university campuses having been cropped up across Canada in recent months, several schools are considering or taking legal action against the protesters.