More arrests after Oxford University protesters 'released on bail'

Protesters outside a sit-in in Wellington Square in Oxford <i>(Image: Lucy Williams)</i>
Protesters outside a sit-in in Wellington Square in Oxford (Image: Lucy Williams)

There have been more arrests following pro-Palestinian protests at Oxford University, after activists spoke out against the police and university response.

A spokesperson for Oxford Action For Palestine said all arrested protesters had now been released on bail. 

Thames Valley Police has confirmed the 16 people who were previously arrested have been further arrested on suspicion of affray.

READ MORE: Oxford university students arrested after Palestine protest

All 16 were previously arrested on May 23 on suspicion of aggravated trespass with one person also arrested on suspicion of common assault.

Police confirmed a 17th arrest had been made also on suspicion of aggravated trespass and affray.

All 17 individuals have been released on conditional bail. 

An OA4P spokesperson said: "We've been able to contact our peers who had been arrested.

"Everyone is shaken and disappointed by the University's disproportionate violence to its own students, but they are doing okay."

The group also said medics were necessary on scene for multiple protesters who they claim were harmed by police. 

The spokesperson claimed: "Police violently pushed protestors without warning, threw them to the ground, and inched their van through a crowd of seated students over the course of two hours."

"Multiple students were punched in the face and left bleeding, grabbed by the shirt and flung to the ground with abrasions, and students' glasses were broken."

MORE COVERAGE: Gallery - Oxford University Palestine protest police response

The Oxford Action for Palestine (OA4P) group has said the sit-in at the Wellington Square building was initiated after "exhausting all other avenues of communication with the administration, following seventeen days of non-response".

A Gaza solidarity encampment was established on May 6 outside the Natural History and Pitt Rivers Museums, before OA4P later established a camp at the Radcliffe Camera and staged "die-ins" at graduation ceremonies.

The protesters are set to remain at the two encampments until the university agrees to negotiations.

Following the arrest of 16 protesters on Thursday, May 23, more than one hundred student and staff supporters gathered outside Wellington Square calling for university action in response to the situation in Gaza and for the release of students.

In a statement released on the evening of May 23, Oxford University said: "The University has always respected the right to peaceful protest by students and staff within the law and regulations, and it is deeply regrettable that the protestors have gone beyond that line."

The statement which was sent to students and staff said the group had "forced entry and temporary occupation of a section" of the offices and caused "significant distress for members of reception staff and the wider staff community".

The statement claimed OA4P had staged a "violent action that included forcibly overpowering the receptionist, and then entry into the Vice-Chancellor’s office while she was on a call, shouting and starting to barricade the doors".

In a statement released shortly after the university's, OA4P claimed: "after a short briefing by the police, the students agreed to vacate the premises peacefully".

"However the police refused to allow the students to leave, confiscated their phones, and placed them under arrest."

The group also said its lawyers had reviewed the CCTV footage of the protesters entering the building via the reception and "assure us that there is no basis for an allegation of 'physically handling the receptionist'".