Cops called to pro-Palestine roof protest

Taking over a building appears to have been a step too far by the protesters, drawing the ire of the faculty. Picture: NewsWire / David Crosling

Two protesters who allegedly climbed onto the roof of a building at the University of Queensland have been arrested, as pro-Palestine supporters in Melbourne were given an ultimatum.

A Queensland police spokesperson confirmed officers were called to the Brisbane university campus about 3pm on Monday following reports of a “large political disturbance”.

The two protesters who were pictured on top of one of the buildings were taken into custody and a public safety response unit was deployed, according to the spokesperson.

Protesters reportedly attempted to block an exit police were trying to use and were banging on windows, though there were no reported injuries and further units were not required.

It comes as staff at the University of Melbourne have formally demanded the sit-in protesters, who have taken over a large building at the Parkville campus, stop their protest amid complaints of classes being disrupted.

Assignment Freelance Picture Unimelb for palestine Instagram posts from the end of the week of May\n 13. Pictures: Instagram
Scenes from the occupied building last week as Unimelb for Palestine shifted inside. Pictures: Instagram
Pro-Palestine protesters continue to occupy the Arts Building at Melbourne University. Picture: NewsWire / David Crosling

In a letter to the encampment, the university’s vice-chancellor warns of police intervention and expulsion if they do not vacate.

More than 6000 students have had classes disrupted since the group began protesting nearly four weeks ago.

The student group Unimelb for Palestine have been leading the protest, calling for the university to cut ties with weapons manufacturers; the university says it has worked with Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon on non-weapons related research, and says all projects comply with ethics, integrity and Defence rules and codes.

Protesters moved into the Arts West building last week and have vowed not to leave, leading to condemnation from university staff.

This move has led to the university issuing formal warnings on Monday.

A letter “authorised” by the vice-chancellor says emergency exits, fire panels and firefighting equipment are obstructed or damaged.

Assignment Freelance Picture A letter posted Monday for building-occupying protestors at the\n University of Melbourne.
A letter posted Monday for building-occupying protesters at the University of Melbourne.

“The University directs all persons occupying the Arts West building to leave the University’s grounds and remove all personal property from the building,” it says in the letter, which was taped to walls at the university on Monday.

Liberal Party MP and Jewish man David Southwick spoke to media at the campus on Friday, saying ‘I don’t feel terribly safe’ with a masked pro-Palestine demonstrator who ‘gatecrashed’ his press conference. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Crosling
International relations masters student Dana Alshaer says Gazan universities have been destroyed, and the protesters want transparency from the University of Melbourne about its involvements with weapons-manufacturing companies. Picture: NewsWire / David Crosling

“Any person who contravenes this direction will be trespassing on University grounds and may be referred to Victoria Police.”

Students who do not comply could have their enrolment terminated or sanctioned in other ways, and be required to pay costs to repair damages, the letter warns.

Footage from inside the building recorded on Monday morning shows a warning to vacate is being played over the speaker system, though the settlement seems mostly empty.

The University of Melbourne is one of at least 12 Australian universities to where protest activity against the war in the Gaza Strip is taking place.

Melbourne University protesters have been told to clear out. Picture: NewsWire / David Crosling

Senior staff at La Trobe, Deakin and the Australian National Universities issued formal directives for encampments to wind up late last week.

Demonstrations on the University of Sydney campus have caused some staff to feel unsafe, with Vice-Chancellor Mark Scott speaking about the encampment on 2GB on Monday morning.

He said anyone who did not want to see or hear the encampment could find another way to walk to class.

“There is an encampment, and it embodies debate and discussion and free speech and protest that’s always been part of university life,” Mr Scott told Ben Fordham’s radio program.

Al Jazeera reports that on Sunday May 19, Palestinians were killed in refugee camps, Israel was barring 3000 aid trucks getting into Gaza, and the al-Awda Hospital in northern Gaza was surrounded by Israeli tanks and had run out of drinking water. Picture: NewsWire / Monique Harmer

“I suppose I would say to them I’m sorry that they feel upset that encampment is there; It is a big university, it’s a very large university and it’s very possible to work your way around the university and not be confronted by the encampment.”

Mr Scott said he would not “go down the United States route” of trying to clear out the camps, which triggered “terrible violence”.

Ugly scene broke out at Ivy League Columbia University in New York on April 30 and at the University of California, Los Angeles some 24 hours later.

More than 1000 people were arrested at US universities in similar circumstances across late April and early May.

“Police in riot gear on campuses, an unleashing of destruction of property, and widespread anti-Semitism: We’ve had nothing like that here,” Mr Scott said.

A University of Sydney professors says some students are spreading ‘left-wing anti-Semitism masquerading as political belief’. Picture: NewsWire/ James Dowling
A University of Sydney professors says some students are spreading ‘left-wing anti-Semitism masquerading as political belief’. Picture: NewsWire/ James Dowling
A thousands-strong protest marched through Sydney earlier this month the Sydney University Gaza solidarity encampment. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Jeremy Piper

The Vice-Chancellor did however apologise to a director of European studies professor, whose class was interrupted by purported pro-Palestine protesters.

Peter Morgan a professor at the university, said he was “shaken” and his students felt intimidated when the lecture was “hijacked” by several masked pro-Palestinian protesters

University of Sydney vice-chancellor Mark Scott says anyone who wants to avoid the encampment can do so given the large campus. Picture: NewsWire / Monique Harmer

Melbourne students have reported anti-Semitism had risen since the October 7 Hamas attack and subsequent escalations of violence and humanitarian issues in Gaza.

The Australasian Union of Jewish Students held a rally at the University of Melbourne earlier this month, saying Jews on campus were being singled out, intimidated and pressured to declare their political allegiances.

About 30 Jewish ralliers walked up the campus for a tense but peaceful stand-off with the pro-Palestinian group.