Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Statement on the students demonstration and police violence last Friday

Statement on the demonstration and police violence last Friday

Last Friday there was another amazing demonstration with well over a 1000 people (see here). Thank you all for showing such tremendous support!

Unfortunately, the night had a sinister ending when the peaceful protesters were confronted with excessive police violence. There are some misunderstandings about what exactly happened that night, hopefully we can offer some clarification here.

The demonstration lasted nearly three hours with loads of inspiring speeches by students and teachers, and ended with a small bonfire at the Lieverdje statue at the Spui (see here). This is a time-honoured tradition of the Provo's, who used to have happenings around the Lieverdje all the time. It was the perfect spot: the statue is made of bronze and therefore cannot burn. (We will clean up any possible burn stains this Monday).

Now times seem to be reviving. As back then, people are ready to stand for their ideals. The former founder of the Provo, Roel van Duyn, recognized this possibly historical moment and was one of the first to come and talk at the formerly occupied Bungehuis. With the Maagdenhuis situated right in front of the Lieverdje, we decided it was the perfect opportunity to repay that honour. Of course, after a month of discussions, debates, lectures, workshops and negotiations, this was also simply a fun way to end the demonstration and start the weekend.

Then, silent police agents arrested two of our fellow students for supposedly helping with the bonfire. In the process, they also started punching people with their fists. Recognizing that we should not let the police intimidate us, a large group of students spontaneously locked in arms and walked the police off the square, a time-honoured tactic for non-violent police resistance.

To show solidarity with the arrested students, dozens of students and teachers went to the police station for a noise demonstration. Then, without warning, a large group of policemen came and started beating people with their batons (see here). There were multiple injuries. One of the students had bruised ribs and two broken fingers and yet another student was arrested. We strongly condemn this excessive police violence, and more noise demonstrations for the release of our fellow students will follow.

Lastly, there were some questions as to why the people taking care of the bonfire were masked up and dressed in black. The reason is simple, as you have seen Friday night, the police is prepared to intimidate, beat up and prosecute peaceful demonstrators. These students wanted to stay anonymous so they couldn't be singled out for aiding in the happening at the Lieverdje.

If you have ideas yourself about future actions or the lack thereof, please come to the Maagdenhuis to voice your opinions. There are general assemblies every single day and every decision is made democratically, if possible by consensus. Everyone is welcome. Someone already proposed using clown suits next time as a way to stay anonymous and glitters instead of fire. We'll put it up for a vote at the next action meeting! Until then, like always, we'll be working on getting out our message and pressuring the CvB to democratize the university!

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