The group behind the recent occupation of the Rootes building on central campus, Warwick for Free Education, have released an exit statement levelling an ultimatum at the University and threatening further action.
Following weeks of protest and occupation sparked by police violence against students at the Free Education protests earlier this month, Warwick For Free Education released the statement on 12 December, claiming: “In criminalising dissent, the University has not silenced us, but only made us more outraged, more determined, and more ready for direct action”.
The exit statement continued to state: “If the University does not take steps toward addressing [Warwick For Free Education’s original demands] by 6th January, it will face further protest.” The seven “original demands” were outlined in a statement dated 4 December 2014, and included calls for an investigation into the police appearance at a “peaceful” protest in which CS gas was allegedly used, and for an apology from the University and vice-chancellor to the students hurt in the incident.
The release of the statement follows the news that a court injunction was served to two members of the Rootes building occupation, on 9 December, in order to remove the occupiers from the building. The occupation was the result of a protest that had taken place five days earlier, on 4 December, against police presence on campus.
One of the two occupiers named in the injunction, Callum Cant, stated: “Management’s attitude, by taking out an injunction and seeking to suppress peaceful protest, shows that they are prepared to spend huge sums of money on legal fees rather than apologise for the disgusting treatment of a peaceful sit-in.”
There were similar complaints from Deborah Hermanns, from the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, who said: “This outrageous move follows similar legal action taken at other universities, including one at Birmingham which was condemned by Amnesty International for breaching human rights. We utterly deplore Warwick management’s decision and will continue to fight for the right to protest on each and every campus – free from management and police repression.”
Peter Dunn, spokesperson for the University, said of the injunction: “The [Rootes] building is used for conferences in the holidays to generate revenue. That money is then reinvested in research and teaching at the university.
“At present, the [occupying] students are preventing that from happening.”
The exit statement cites historical protests at Warwick and states that the #CopsOffCampus protest garnered support from a “number of students not seen in decades”.
In the statement, Warwick For Free Education threaten the University with further protests next term, beginning January 2015, if they fail to meet the demands that Warwick For Free Education have levelled at them.
The University have yet to respond to the exit statement.