The encampment in Sheffield

A wave of pro-Palestine university occupations and encampments began in Britain on Wednesday, inspired by student actions in the United States

Six universities—Newcastle, Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester, Goldsmiths and Bristol—and have already seen action, with others poised to join them. And students at Warwick university in Coventry had already set up a camp.

Lewi, from Newcastle University, told Socialist Worker that up to 40 students set up more than 20 tents and gazebos. He said, “We’re done with not being listened to. Our university has links with Leonardo ADS and  Pearson Engineering, which an Israeli company bought.

“We’ve been protesting for over six months and we’ve tried passing motions. But our university has thrown these motions out because of technicalities. 

“Students here plan to stay out to get our university to finally move.” 

Lewi also added that students have received great support from workers. “Members of the UCU have already come down to give us food and hot drinks. They’ve also given us donations,” he added. 

At Leeds University, students set up tents at 8am. Student Issy said that a coalition of different groups set up the encampment. 

“We have the Palestine Society, Youth Demand and the Socialist Worker Student Society here. Around 30 societies signed up to say they supported the action. 

“Last week we had a really good student and staff assembly. We’d already decided to proceed with the encampment, but the assembly really solidified our decision.

“The support for the encampment has been great. We’ve already received loads of food donations.”

Issy added that the weekly walkout for Palestine on campus on Wednesday was much bigger than it had been in recent months. 

“The protest was really big on Wednesday. There were more than 300 people. I think students feel inspired by what’s happening in the US.” 

The encampment at the University of Sheffield was set up during a hundreds-strong Palestine rally in the centre of campus. 

Student Belle told Socialist Worker that activists set up the camp during the rally so that more people would be there to support it. 

“We have 16 tents here and we hope more people will come. 

“The Sheffield Campus Coalition for Palestine has set up the encampment. We’ve already set up infrastructure for the camp. 

“We’re allocating a rota for those who want to sleep in the encampment, a logistics team to sort out food and supplies, and an outreach team to speak to others about why we are occupying.” 

Belle added that students will stay until their demands that the university divest from Israeli companies and show accountability have been met. 

In Bristol students set up camp in Royal Fort Gardens outside the Senate House centre demanding that University of Bristol “divest and demilitarise”. 

Students at Goldsmiths University in south London also began another occupation of the university’s library. They hung banners in the window of the building that said “Shut it down 4 Palestine” and “From the river to the sea.” 

Manchester students set up 40 tents in the afternoon on Wednesday.

At Warwick University, students continued their encampment, which they established last week. 

The Warwick Stands With Palestine group said more than 200 people were supporting the encampment. 

And students are saying they want to send a message of solidarity to the students in the US. 

“I want to thank the students in the US for their courage,” said Belle. “We as students have a lot of collective power if we stand up and fight. 

“Students can make our universities move and also inspire other sections of society.” 

Lewi added that students in Britain who are thinking about starting an occupation shouldn’t wait for others but should “do it themselves now”. 

What’s happening at your university? Email us at reports@socialistworker.co.uk

Organise for 18 May Nakba Day national demo

 After the 200,000-strong national demonstration on Saturday there were Mayday protests for Palestine on 1 May as well as the launch of university actions.  The coalition organising the national marches has confirmed another national Demonstration on Saturday 18 May to mark the anniversary of the Nakba when Zionist settlers and militias forced at least 800,000 off their land to make way for the Israeli state, and to step up demands for an end to the genocide and to the arming of Israel.

Stop the War has called an activists’ meeting on Thursday 9 May at the Palestine 21 Gallery, 21-27 Chalton Street, London NW1 1JD at 6.30pm to discuss and plan the campaign, including building for the 18 May demonstration.

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