Over 45 arrested in Univ. Amsterdam eviction

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No image availableNL Times

Police evicted the occupiers of the Bungehuis on Tuesday morning and early afternoon, reporting a total of 46 arrests. The removal of De Nieuwe Unviersiteit (The New University) protesters from the University of Amsterdam (UvA) building began peacefully, but proved more difficult when students outside the building blocked police trucks from entering the property. "The evacuation of the Bungehuis today was completed without major incidents," a City of Amsterdam statement reads, stating that the headquarters for the humanities faculty has been given back to the UvA. The mayor, Eberhard van der Laan, thanked police for their work, but expressed regret that an evacuation had to take place, emphasizing that the students were given ample opportunity to leave on their own before police entered the building. He was upbeat that the situation was relatively non-violent.

Evacuation of the building began officially at 9:30 a.m., after a block of the Spuistraat was closed to traffic. The area was packed with students and bystanders supporting the occupants of the Bungehuis, as well as curious onlookers. The crowd chanted throughout the morning, expressing slogans such as "No justice, no peace, fuck the police" and "No ifs, no buts, no education cuts." About an hour later, the first protester was dragged from the Bungehuis by officers into a police van waiting on the curb. Mounted police and officers on foot formed a barrier between onlookers and the Bungehuis entrance. The process was repeated for six protesters removed one-by-one from the building, some walking peacefully and smiling, others yelling and kicking; refusing to walk.

Students from the Humanities Rally and other supporters cheered emphatically throughout the process. "I'm quite glad it's over, really for them", linguistics student Lianne Hooijnans told NL Times at the scene. "It's been so hard for them to be there for such a long time," she added. Some occupiers had been in the Bungehuis since the protest started on February 13. "It's hard to see your friends arrested, they're not really criminals," she said. "I understand why they're being removed, but the Board could really have done more to compromise." The cheering escalated to dramatic proportions when Rudolf Valkhoff, a lecturer who has been in the Bungehuis since the occupation began, was dragged out by police. A clapping student described Valkhoff's solidarity with the students as "inspiring."

After two police vans were filled with occupiers and driven down the road, members of the crowd outside the Bungehuis sat in a huddle across the pavement and bike path in front of the Bungehuis, preventing a third police van needed to transport the evicted protesters. The atmosphere outside the building became more tense, as police horses were used to forcibly move obstructing activisits. The group then moved to block the path of the vans leaving the Bungehuis. "We planned it," a Humanities Rally student told NL Times. "It was the least we could do." The police officers grabbed seated students and carried them to an area blocked-off by a fence. A scuffle occurred when bystanders were forced to move backwards swiftly by mounted police and officers on the street.

One bystander was injured after a horse trampled his foot, the police confirmed in a release. As of 3:00 p.m. his condition was unknown. Friends of the person told NL Times that he was a student protesting with the Humanities Rally. By 12:30 p.m., all bystanders were shepherded out of Spuistraat and into the surrounding side streets. Entry into the area in front of the Bungehuis was blocked, except for incoming police vans. The police stated that the students were aware of the consequences of remaining in the building after the injunction was delivered. This was echoed by the City of Amsterdam, which explained that the "46 occupiers arrested gave no response to...repeated requests from the police to leave the property voluntarily."

According to Hooijnans, approximately 300 students stayed in the Bungehuis on Thursday night after the verdict was delivered. Only five of the fifty students who stayed in the Bungehuis on Monday night chose to leave voluntarily on Tuesday morning after police surrounded the building, said Ian, one such student, to NL Times. "This morning we knew they were coming," he said. The mayor says he "knows that the dialogue on education and research at the university will continue, and hopes that this will lead to restoration of trust between the parties," according to a statement from city hall. The eviction followed a meeting at the Mayor's house between the occupiers and the UvA Board which failed to yield a compromise.