Student protester held after writing on university walls

Video footage taken at the scene showed protesters and police outside the library
-Credit: (Image: lvrpool_enc)

A Liverpool University student was detained by police after writing on the walls of the university library.

Students have been protesting attacks on civilians in Gaza since May, when an encampment was set up in the university's Abercromby Square. They were reportedly drawing slogans, including "Free Palestine" and peace symbols, in chalk around the Sydney Jones Library when they were approached by police officers, who reportedly warned them they could be arrested.

Witnesses said one student, Casa Walters, 21, grabbed a water bottle to remove the writing, but was detained by around 10 police officers who "put his arms behind him and dragged him away".

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Other protesters then attempted to free the media and politics student, with chants of "let him go". Video footage taken at the scene showed protesters and police scuffling outside the library in front of a parked police van.

Mr Walter and another student were handcuffed and arrested. Police said the other student was dearrested at the scene, but the ECHO understands Mr Walters was taken to a police station, and later released without charge.

He said: "They never gave a reason for my arrest, they just took me away and let me go after I gave my name and details. It was intimidation, nothing more.

"It was just chalk, they've been loitering around the encampment the last few days. They cut open our banners yesterday, I think they were just afraid we'd cause a disturbance.

"It was very aggressive and completely nonsensical. They said it was spray-paint, which it clearly wasn't. They surrounded me, grabbed me and pulled me into their van. If we're subject to this kind of harassment, anyone is. I'm not paying £9,000 to be harassed and arrested at my own university."

Another protester said: "It was chaos. Both police and campus officers were grabbing our faces, necks and phones and pushing us against the wall. One of them punched me across the chest and ripped my jumper open, I can still feel it now."

Following the arrests, students took their protest to St Annes police station on St Anne Street, chanting "let them go and we will go". It is understood the other arrested student remains in custody.

A Merseyside Police spokesman said: "We can confirm a man was arrested on suspicion of obstructing police during a protest in Liverpool city centre on Saturday, June 22.

"At around 11.45am, officers were at Abercromby Square where a peaceful protest was taking place, having liaised with organisers ahead of the protest to help minimise disruption to the roads and ensure the safety of the public and the protestors.

"A man initially believed to have used spray paint on a university building was arrested after failing to provide his details. He was then de-arrested after providing his details, and it was established he had marked the building with chalk. A second man was detained after he was seen being obstructive and verbally abusive to officers.

"The man was arrested on suspicion of obstructing/resisting a constable in the execution of their duty and taken into custody to be questioned.

Chief Superintendent Jonathan Davies said: “We respect the right to protest and expression of views, and our officers were in the area to ensure the safety of protestors and other members of the public, but aggressive and abusive behaviour will not be tolerated and will be dealt with robustly.

“The vast majority of those in attendance behaved impeccably but one man acted abusively and obstructively and as a result was detained at the scene.

“We continue to monitor the situation at Abercromby Square and where offences are suspected to have been committed, we will not hesitate to take action.”

A University of Liverpool spokesperson said: "We are aware of an incident on our campus this afternoon during an open day, following graffiti being drawn on a university building. We will work with campus support and police colleagues to clarify the specifics of this case."

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