The occupation of the University of Amsterdam is over. The ME (Police Support Unit) cleared the building yesterday evening and arrested 30 people. Earlier in the day, the Executive Board had asked the demonstrators to leave voluntarily.
Yesterday, activists from various groups held a protest march because the UvA allegedly has ties with oil company Shell. They already handed over a petition about it to the Executive Board last December.
Subsequently, they occupied a university building in the Amsterdam city centre. The Executive Board chairperson and vice-chairperson went there to talk with the demonstrators. They promised a ‘broad’ debate within the UvA about research collaboration, in particular with Shell.
That was not enough to persuade the demonstrators to leave. The Executive Board commented that it “regrets that it was necessary for the police to intervene and remains convinced of the good intentions of the student protesters”.
The evacuation itself was no easy matter. Activists attempted to hold back the police, resisted the intervention of the ME and climbed onto the roof to roll out a banner reading “Cops off campus”. The police needed heavy-duty gear to get inside, says a reporter from city broadcaster AT5. Thirty demonstrators were arrested, according to the police.
In its previous response to December’s petition, the UvA said that it is collaborating with other parties, including Shell, in four research projects relating to sustainability. Scientific integrity has apparently not been compromised.
According to the UvA, it has no other ties with Shell. The company is not sponsoring any meetings, travel or grants, for instance. It is, however, possible that the company attended particular career days at the invitation of students.
The activists have made accusations of ‘greenwashing’ (the appearance of being environmentally conscious). They are amazed that the university allowed their protests to end in violence.