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Students arrested during OA4P sit-in at University offices

16 students were arrested during a sit-in staged by Oxford Action for Palestine (OA4P) at the University Offices in Wellington square. Protesters aimed to remain until they could speak to the Vice-Chancellor. The arrests were made after police arrived and locked down the building with 16 students still inside according to OA4P’s head of press. 

According to the version of events provided by protesters, the participants of the sit-in agreed to leave after police arrived but they were not allowed to when the building was locked-down. Police officers could not confirm the events or numbers when approached by Cherwell on multiple occasions.

As soon as police arrived at Wellington Square, OA4P began to mobilise wider support from the community and crowds outside demonstrated loudly and provided a human barrier for the protesters inside.

Around 150 protesters gathered outside the offices trying to block the main entrance to the building and stop police vans from getting through. The crowd chanted “let them go” on a loudspeaker and began to bang cutlery and pans to further disrupt police action. 

Police created their own line right outside the gate to stop any more protesters entering. Some police officers were also seen recording videos of the people chanting and showing support for those participating in the sit-in inside. Dozens of police cars and vans lined the nearby blocks.

OA4P expressed that the sit-in comes with a “renewed sense of urgency”, as they shared that “late last night, our encampment in front of the Pitt Rivers Museum was attacked yet again by a hostile actor armed with a knife.” The attack was attributed to the “Prime Minister, irresponsible media, and the University Administration” for making them targets through their “fear mongering.”

OA4P also stated that “the Administration has preemptively classified acts of nonviolent protest within the University sphere as threats equivalent to terrorist actions,” punishing protesters rather than negotiating with them. 

In a subsequent update this afternoon, OA4P said that 16 student demonstrators have been arrested. They also stated that the Vice-Chancellor was inside the University building and spoke with the student-protesters. The police also removed protesters blocking the police van.

Around 2pm, the protest advanced to outside of Keble College, where a meeting of the Conference of Colleges, attended by all heads of Oxford colleges, took place. The students occupied the reception area and security evacuated the café. Police arrived at Keble College and filmed protesters

A student from Keble College told Cherwell the protesters in the H.B. Allen Centre (HBAC) were attempting to force doors open and pull the fire alarm, while police evacuated residents of the building through a back door. Other protesters outside were chanting “stay outside” to the inside protesters.

Keble College sent an email to students warning those inside the H. B. Allen Centre to “not move from your rooms or any area inside.”

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