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VU student at UvA protest: ‘I tried to deescalate and was arrested instead’

Monday’s occupation at the UvA also led to the arrest of a VU Amsterdam student. Earth Sciences master student and Extinction Rebellion member Jonathan (23) from the UK says he was attacked and arrested by the police despite his attempts to peacefully comply. He hopes VU Amsterdam can avoid a similar situation.

“I heard about what was happening with the UvA, so I wanted to go and show solidarity and support for those that were inside the building. I’m not sure how many other VU people there were, aside from one staff member I saw. Those of the occupation were doing the right thing and I think there needs to be more of what they were doing here at VU Amsterdam.”

Ready for a fight

“We were just chanting and making noise so that the people inside could hear us. Maybe it’s the Brit in me talking, but I made sure that there was tea inside. A warm cup destresses anybody. The protest was completely peaceful until about fifty cops showed up. They had their batons out and were ready to hit.

‘Some friends were covered in bruises by the end of it’

“Some of us didn’t want to put ourselves at risk of arrest, so we complied when they asked us to move to a different street. Once we moved where they wanted us to, about twenty cops smashed into us with their shields and started hitting people, including me. Some friends were covered in bruises by the end of it.

“The person I was linking arms with randomly got grabbed and pulled onto the ground by the police, so I was torn down too. Immediately we had four police officers jump on us. Straightaway I said I was cooperating and not resisting arrest, but they carried on with both knees on my back and pulled my hood over my face so I couldn’t see anything. They handcuffed me, even though they’re only supposed to do that if you’re arrested for a violent crime or are resisting arrest and I was doing neither.

“Eventually I was taken to the police station and processed. They really did not know what they were doing. At no point did they tell me what I was charged with. They didn’t tell me what my rights were and released me at 1:30 in the morning, I think because they didn’t have enough cells. Most people were detained until the next day.”

Fossil fuel ties

“I think the board of the UvA had a lot of opportunities to negotiate. They had an example to follow from the occupation at TU Eindhoven. That board was happy to talk to the students. But instead, the board of the UvA only held empty talks and chose violence. This isn’t the first time they’ve done this against students. They did it in 2015. Then in 2016, following the referendum that they ignored, and any following protest against that. This is a really worrisome pattern from the board of the UvA.

‘I urge VU Amsterdam not to take the UvA’s example’

“I hope that is something that the board of VU Amsterdam wouldn’t do. I wouldn’t like to see an occupation here and hope there won’t be a need for one. I would like to come to an agreement with the board without having to go to such lengths. There is a petition at the moment to call for the university to cut all ties with fossil fuel companies.

“First they need to say what ties they do have, because even according to many staff members I talked to, the university has not been clear about its ties to fossil fuel companies. We know that there are definitely some with Shell. In the Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM) there’s a new magazine by Shell regularly. I would really encourage the board of VU Amsterdam to look into how they can eliminate ties to fossil fuel companies and I would urge them that if they don’t do so, they don’t follow the UvA’s example and actually talk to their students.”

The student’s identity is known to the staff


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