Arrests of 19 students “most disturbing”: UBC VP

UBC responds to arrests of 19 students at protest, says uni will probe police and student actions

April 6 statement from the University of British Columbia regarding the arrest of 19 students at a protest April 4. This statement was originally posted on the UBC website here.

“The events and the arrest of 19 people on our Vancouver campus on the night of Friday, April 4 are most disturbing, and work is underway in the university community to understand what occurred and to deal with the implications,” UBC Vice President, External, Legal and Community Relations Stephen Owen said in a statement on Saturday, April 5. “We look forward to a speedy resolution of the current situation for all those involved.”

It appears the incident began when a large bonfire was ignited during a rally. Fire Department personnel were summoned by the University. When firefighters were prevented from putting out the fire, police made an arrest. After a crowd prevented police from transporting the arrested individual out of the area, additional police were summoned and 19 persons were subsequently arrested.


19 student arrested at bonfire protest (PLUS YouTube video of protest)

Update: UBC investigating mass student arrests

Making a mountain out of a knoll hill

“It needs to be understood that the safety issue caused by the fire, and the response to it, appear to be what initiated this extremely unfortunate and upsetting incident,” Owen said.

“We do not have the level of detail needed to understand all that transpired Friday night, and the senior leadership of the university has begun immediate discussion with UBC Campus Security, the RCMP and student leaders to arrive at a better understanding in an attempt to avoid recurrence.”

Friday’s rally was intended to draw attention to issues regarding re-development of University Square. Owen noted that plans for the project have already changed considerably, partly in response to University community feedback, and now include a commitment to a large green space. Full details are available in a report approved by the Board of Governors (PDF) in November, which explicitly seeks to “retain more of the existing character of the landscaping already in place, most significantly through the re-creation of the grassy knoll.”

“I now understand that all students have been released from custody on bail conditions that will permit them to attend classes, exams, meetings and, where appropriate, campus residences,” Owen said today.

April 6 statement from the University of British Columbia regarding the arrest of 19 students at a protest April 4. Original posted on the UBC website here.

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