Pro-Palestine students end occupation of Wills after Bristol Uni threatens legal action

The occupiers left Wills ‘following continued threats of police involvement and a court order from the university’

On Saturday (23rd March) afternoon, the pro-Palestine students’ occupation of the Wills Memorial Great Hall came to an end.

The students, belonging to Student Action Bristol, said that “following continued threats of police involvement and a court order from the university”, they “made the decision not to extend the occupation beyond the planned week of disruption”.

Their initial threshold for ending the occupation was for Bristol University to respond to and implement their demands, which did not happen.

The students used tables and chairs to barricade the doors of the Great Hall (image via Student Action Bristol)

The occupation began last Tuesday (19th March) at approximately 12:30pm, and was the third student occupation of a university building in the last month aimed at protesting against the “university’s complicity in the genocide in Gaza”.

It followed the occupation of The Victoria Rooms, which then moved to the university’s executive management offices at 5 Tyndall Avenue earlier this month. This occupation, carried out by Bristol Occupy for Palestine, is ongoing and, as of today (29th March), has entered its 22nd day.

The occupation of The Victoria Rooms (pictured above) began on the 8th March, with the protestors moving to the executive management offices five days later

Despite ending their occupation of Wills early, Student Action Bristol felt they successfully increased awareness of “the university’s involvement in the ongoing Palestinian genocide… through millions of views on social media”.

The group also claimed that their occupation meant the university “were forced to cancel offer holder day events, meetings with industry and VIP visits”.

A University of Bristol spokesperson said: “We always respect the rights of our students to peacefully protest within the law.

“We have a statutory duty to comply with health and safety legislation. Despite attempts to engage with the occupiers about this, we could not ignore the fact that they were refusing to follow basic health and safety regulations which was putting them and other students and staff studying and working in the building at risk.

“In order to keep them and everyone safe, we took the regrettable step to begin legal proceedings to evict them. They left the Great Hall on Saturday afternoon shortly after they were officially informed of this.”

Cover image via Student Action Bristol

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