Police remove Univ. Amsterdam occupiers; nine in custody

Maagdenhuis demonstration
Demonstration in the Spui as police remove occupiers from the Maagdenhuis. April 11, 2015 (photo: OphidianCorpse / Twitter)Demonstration in the Spui as police remove occupiers from the Maagdenhuis. April 11, 2015 (photo: OphidianCorpse / Twitter)

Police in Amsterdam on Saturday began the eviction of a group of protesters who have held a sit-in demonstration at the University of Amsterdam’s Maagdenhuis building for over a month. A judge ordered the protesters to leave by midnight on Friday, but the students, lecturers and researchers camped out at the site refused.

A team of officers entered the building just before 11 a.m. One person was arrested at the site on Saturday morning protesting the presence of police shortly after, according to AT5.

Occupiers who fled the building are demonstrating in the central Amsterdam square, Spui, right in front of the building. Skirmishes broke out several times between demonstrators and riot police, the broadcaster reported.

By noon, at least nine people were in police custody for throwing paint bombs at a police horse, egregious insults and obstruction. Many of the demonstrators are from the groups De Nieuwe Universiteit, ReThink UvA and Humanities Rally.

The court-ordered eviction ended just after 12:15 p.m.

The demonstration began on February 13 at the nearby Humanities faculty in the Bungehuis on Spuistraat. Occupiers held that building for two weeks with a litany of demands, including the end to program and budget cuts in the humanities department, and the cancellation of a 50 million euro deal to sell the Bungehuis.

After a judge ordered them out, protesters were cleared out after 11 days in that building, with police arresting 45.

Colleagues of the arrestees surprised the university by breaking into the Maagdenhuis, a symbolic administrative building, after a protest march on February 26. Repeated offers of reform by the university’s executive board, including a ten-point plan some protesters hailed as a victory, were summarily rebuffed by the protesters advisors and leadership.

Protesters never publicly announced any willingness to compromise on their demands.

A breakthrough in talks between the two sides was reached last week, with sides agreeing it was time to end the protest for several reasons, including a lack of security at the Maagdenhuis. Occupiers scheduled a press conference to announce the end of the occupation with a festival at the building, but at the last minute they told the gathered journalists they might not leave the building, and would orchestrate harder protest actions.

The executive board, surprised again, decided it was time to take legal action for the second time, especially after protesters gave another ambiguous statement suggesting they might -or might not- leave the building on Monday.



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