Statement Condemning the Police Raid Against Student Protesters
Statement Condemning the Police Raid Against Student Protesters

Statement Condemning the Police Raid Against Student Protesters

ST. JOHN’S— Students who have been engaging in a peaceful protest at Memorial University were raided by police on order of the administration. On June 7th, students began occupying the Arts and Administration building at the St. John’s campus to advocate that their University divest from investments directly tied to the funding of genocide. On July 5th, Memorial administration called police to remove students from their own campus.

The administration claims that the action taken to end the inside occupation was influenced by the decision of the Ontario Supreme Court in the U of T v. Doe et al case. However, Osgoode Hall of Law School of York Professor Heidi Matthews responded to this decision on X (Formerly Twitter), stating that Memorial University has weaponized a court decision from another jurisdiction, showing a clear misunderstanding of that decision and its applicability to the encampment at Memorial University.

In their July 5th statement to the Gazette, Memorial cites safety concerns without sufficient evidence to support these claims. Administration also failed to provide a concrete deadline for protesters to vacate, instead forcing international and racialized students to interact with police, despite protesters continual demands that Memorial consult with its EDI-AR office to understand why this decision goes against the principles of the Scarborough Charter, signed by Administration in 2021.

Police and Campus Enforcement Patrol officers’ were present at 10:00pm, demanding that all protesters vacate the Arts and Administration building lobby, despite students’ continuous occupation of the campus for 45 days. Memorial cites a Regional Fire Department Inspection report in their statement issued July 6th as one of many reasons for dismantling the encampment. On July 5th, several students attempted to reach the Regional Fire Department as well as the head of Occupational Health and Safety staff, Barbara Battcock, to have access to the report in order to adjust the protest accordingly to ensure the safety of everyone involved. Students did not receive access to the report, despite repeated requests.

Three students were charged with petty trespassing on their own campus, while they were occupying to demand the University disclose, divest and boycott from all weapons manufacturers and corporations complicit in the genocide of Palestinians in Gaza. 

“Memorial would rather dismantle a peaceful student protest than divest less than one-third of one per cent of its total portfolio from genocide,” CFS-NL Fieldworker, Ashlinn Pennell noted. “That’s $7,144,370,090 dollars in arms manufacturing, in companies like RTX Corporation, Textron Inc and Motorola Solutions Inc. Companies that facilitate the destruction of Gaza Strip, and killing of children like Yazan al-Kafarna, Hind Rajab, Bisan Rami Fathi Al-Basous, Abdul Majid Ahmed Akasha, and Kanan Mohammed Al-Qattati. Through choosing neutrality, MUN is complicit in this genocide.”

“To use police force with only 30 minutes notice was an extremely violent and irresponsible decision on the part of Memorial University admin”, said CFSNL’s Campaigns Coordinator, Nicolas Keough. ”There was no time to leave the building before the RNC showed up, giving students no option but to engage with the police. This intentional endangerment of students, following weeks of the same students advocating for administrators to consult with their EDI-AR office concerning the use of law enforcement, shows a complete unwillingness to follow through on their existing commitments to anti-racism, and a lack of concern for their students’ wellbeing. Students and community members are left wondering if the upper administration is well-suited for the positions they hold, and whether they deserve the massive salaries given to them by the public purse as well as student tuition.”

National Deputy Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students, Jawad Chowdhury spoke out following the events. "Memorial University is the only publicly funded university in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Students attending this university have been subject to continuous fee increases to obtain their right to an education and now the university is attempting to force them into silence by the administration of the university. Students have a right to an education, and a right to protest." 

“The actions of Memorial University administration clearly indicate to me that they have no regard for their students.” states CFSNL Chairperson Mary Feltham “It is completely unacceptable for administration to continuously attempt to force students into silence. A university is not intended to be a place to shape people into compliance, it is instead a place to become an individual with the appropriate skills to advocate for yourself and others. By instigating a police raid on their own students who have been engaging in peaceful protests tells me that Memorial admin does not see itself as a University, but an institution that intends to control people into conformity.”

Students will be continuing to advocate for Memorial to disclose, divest and boycott all weapons manufacturers and companies complicit in the ongoing genocide of Palestinians in Gaza, as well as human rights violations around the world.


For further information, please contact:

Robert Leamon, Organizer | 709.737.3204 (O), 709.771.0222 (M) |

The Canadian Federation of Students - Newfoundland and Labrador proudly unites 25,000 public post-secondary students in NL in the fight for high-quality, affordable, post-secondary education.