“Repulsion is the neutral position”: recap of day 4 of the U of O student camp

wide shot of protest

Photo: Pavel Nangfack/Fulcrum.

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The protest continues, with more agitators and more community support

On the fourth day of the University of Ottawa protest, the camp’s momentum and organization increased. The number of tents had increased from about twenty the day before to over thirty, and formal stations had been set up for first aid, art and food. Over the course of the day, a dishwashing station, makeshift stove and tarps were set up to further maintain the encampment.

The morning started with representatives from the universities removing the keffiyeh and Palestinian flag from the Tabaret statue that demonstrators had decorated the night before. Attendees began cheering and chanting “Free Palestine” before the items were returned to organizers.

Father Joseph-Henri Tabaret was a former president of the U of O, known for expanding the university, and as a member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, who were instrumental in building residential schools.

The night before, a person unrelated to the encampment organizers “Free Palestine” was spray-painted on the steps of Tabaret Hall. The paint was machine washed under the supervision of campus security the morning after.

The number of incidents involving agitators also increased from the day before: witnesses told the Fulcrum that around 2:30 a.m. Thursday, a group of three attendees conducted a perimeter walk. A cyclist with his face covered blared an air horn into a participant’s ear. An hour later, a car drove past the encampment twice, honking its horn and shouting obscenities at camp participants, including “f… Palestine” and “it’s all a lie.”

At 12:30 p.m., as organizers prepared for the day’s program of speeches, singing and painting, a passing driver exited his vehicle on Cumberland and shouted at protesters. Organizers brought umbrellas to the fence to block this person’s view of the encampment and began chants of “Free Palestine.” The driver turned the group around and shouted; noticed he was blocking traffic and drove away.

Non-consensual filming of protesters continued into the day, with several people pulling back tarps and entering closed off areas where students were still sleeping. The agitators left after organizers blocked the view of their cameras with umbrellas.

Later that afternoon, a document from the Canadian Association of Professional Employees Labor 4 Palestine was presented, with a unanimous motion to support the U of O encampment starting April 30. The document included such confirmations, including a financial donation to the encampment later in the week.

In the afternoon, an updated supply list was uploaded to INSAF’s Instagram story, highlighting items that maintained camp cleanliness and sleeping supplies. Specifically, they requested brooms, cushions, walkie-talkies and extra garbage bags.

Protesters then listened to associate professor of criminology Justin Pitche, who gave a speech on behalf of the CPAP. He noted that “what the university is doing is damn shameful.” Pitche demanded that the university must remain transparent about “which side they are on (for): genocide, apartheid, occupation, political imprisonment.”

The speech echoed similar sentiments from the rest of the protesters: “repulsion is the neutral position.” As the speech came to a close, Pitche made efforts to emphasize the need to prevent “the criminalization of the Palestinian liberation solidarity event” and that investments “should not be made in my name.” Divesting from Genocide (U of O).”

After the speech, organizers called on protesters to join them in making posters. “All eyes on Gaza” was painted on the banner, alongside several dozen images of eyes. Protesters then wrote letters to Jacques Fremont, addressed to his office, where organizers would then deliver them.

Construction work at Tabaret’s steps prompted organizers to distribute earplugs and masks to combat the noise and dust produced by the activity.

A speaker from Carleton’s Independent Jewish Voices then also gave a speech stating, “I stand here today as a proud Jew committed to justice and equality for all people. We stand with the Palestinian people in their struggle for freedom, dignity and self-determination.” They then further noted: “We will not rest until justice is served, until the occupation ends and until all people can live in peace and security.” Concluding their speech, they stated that they must “continue the work of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world and building a future of justice and peace for all.”

The evening concluded as attendees gathered to sing “Shame, Shame Jacques Fremont” and “Free, Free Palestine” in English, French and Arabic.

  • Amira Benjamin was editor-in-chief of Fulcrum for the publication years 2020-2021 and 2021-2222.

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  • Daniel is in his second year of a major/minor in History and English. This is his first year working for the Fulcrum, and (hopefully!) not his last. You can spot it lurking in the Arts & Culture or Features sections! When he’s not writing to his ears, he’s probably playing Mahjong or obsessing over new music.

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