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'We have laws': Premier Smith says police action justified in Calgary

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The actions, including the decision to use non-lethal force, to disperse pro-Palestinian protesters from the University of Calgary campus were justified, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith said Friday.

"The university have made it very clear that you can't trespass and they can't camp, so I think people should follow the law," Smith told the media during a media announcement in Calgary.

Officials say a number of people, who were part of a pro-Palestinian protest on Thursday, refused to leave the campus and were arrested.

Earlier in the day, police were called to the school to deal with dozens of protesters who refused requests by campus security to leave.

"Several protesters had begun setting up tents on the south lawn of MacEwan Hall," police said in a news release.

Police attended the scene and "worked with the university" to safely resolve the situation, where they "clearly communicated" to the protesters the consequences of staying.

Despite that order, many of the protesters remained and police were then required to move in and enforce the trespass order.

Police say when officers moved in, protesters took violent actions against them.

"Projectiles were thrown at police and barricades had to be removed. Multiple opportunities were given throughout the course of the event for attendees to pack up and leave, and many did without further issue," police said.

By 11:15 p.m., the remaining protesters were arrested and removed from the park.

Police say non-lethal munitions were utilized to pacify the crowd and no injuries were reported.

"We encourage those who choose to protest to do so in a lawful and peaceful manner. All protesters are encouraged to review their rights and responsibilities on http://calgarypolice.ca/protesting," police said.

'Trespassing is not acceptable': Smith

In her comments on Friday, Smith noted that the post-secondary institution made it very clear camping wasn’t allowed and that the police response was justified.

“Because of the Coutts blockade, we have laws in the province, and you cannot block critical infrastructure, and in this case, it's private property," she said.

Smith adds that the peaceful protest must follow parameters and that a large number of people protesting weren’t students on campus.

She says the province will provide support and assistance at the University of Alberta which has also experienced similar protests to make sure any further incidents "don’t get out of hand."

“I don't want to speculate, but I have seen some of the slogans that are have been waved around and there should be no room for anti-semitism and no room for hate crimes," she said.

“So I would say that if it accelerates and escalates out of control and devolves into hate speech, then I would say that the universities have to deal with that swiftly.”

(Supplied)

Muslim Students' Association condemns 'colonial violence'

The Muslim Students Association (MSA) at the University of Calgary released a statement Friday "unequivocally condemning’ the actions taken by the post-secondary’s administration and Calgary police against the Mohkinstis Student Encampment."

“Instead of engaging and conversing on student demands, the university resorted to colonial violence at its first opportunity,” read the statement.

“The use of tear gas, flash bombs, rubber bullets, and arrests targeting individuals who were peacefully protesting is a violation of our fundamental Canadian rights. We affirm our right to peacefully protest, assemble, and encamp as protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

The MSA represents 7,000 Muslim students on campus, calling this the "most aggressive action taken by any university in Canada thus far."

Another group, Canadian Muslims for Peace and Justice, also said the conduct of police officers to break up the protest was "aggressive."

"Canadian universities receive our tax dollars to function," the group wrote in a statement. "Therefore, as Canadian taxpayers, we demand that the University of Calgary allow peaceful protests by the students on the land of a public institution."

Police justified to remove trespassers: criminologist

The University of Calgary is considered to be private property, although the public still has access to it and is freely allowed to peacefully protest.

However, Mount Royal University criminologist Doug King says setting up encampments begin to infringe on both city and provincial trespassing bylaws.

“I would be hard pressed to say this is a criminal trespass because it’s not near a dwelling house, but mischief laws could come into play,” he said.

“Mischief is generally interference with property, with a person’s use of their property or my use property that is commonly held so that possible is the case.”

King went on to say that protesters were given ample warnings and asked to be removed for several hours.

He notes that police have full discretion to remove those infringing trespassing bylaws on private property.

“Police are extraordinarily trained with their amount of force, so it would have first started with a presence, then it would be a verbal warning and then it can be the pulling on of hands or pulling someone away,” said King.

“It looks to me that the police were using their shields to push people aside, I also saw some bikes and the use of flashbangs, which are firecrackers that make a big bang and a flash of light and smoke which typically isn’t going to harm anyone, rather just disorient them.”

(Supplied)

The University of Calgary told CTV News that they had spoke with the individuals involved in the protest and informed them of the rules.

"Temporary structures and overnight protests are not permitted. Members of the campus community are free to protest but they are not free to camp."

In a letter from U of C president Ed McCauley to the campus community, he said the police were called in and, at 8 p.m., began enforce the school's trespass order.

"Their decision to enforce a trespass order – and how – is based on assessment of the risk to public safety as determined through things such as protester actions, communications (including social media monitoring) and analysis."

Over the next several hours, many of the demonstrators left the property, but counter-protesters soon arrived and the situation "very quickly devolved."

"The risk of serious violence is one of the primary reasons overnight protests are not permitted. It is certainly possible counter-protesters only became aware of the encampment because of reporting on the large police presence," McCauley said.

"It is also possible that they would have shown up regardless – yesterday, this evening, some evening in the future – and in the middle of the night a camp would have found itself in immediate and dangerous conflict with counter-protesters."

McCauley admitted that students of the school have the right to protest, but there are limitations under law and university policy on how that can proceed.

Protesters who spoke with CTV News shared only one statement about the protest, which was, "there are concrete interests at play here and what we demand is the concrete change of our university."

Charges are pending against the protesters who were arrested for trespassing on campus property.

(With files from Tyler Barrow)

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