Lancaster students put in headlock and dragged by security after interrupting senior meeting

The students claim they were left with injuries that required medical attention


Lancaster students were forcibly removed by security after they interrupted a senior university staff meeting in a “peaceful” pro-Palestine protest.

Footage shows one student being put in a headlock by security whilst another student is dragged along the ground by two security guards by her clothing.

The students involved, who are currently participating in the encampment taking place in Alexandra Square, claim they were left with “bruises, carpet burns, cuts and broken clothing” due to the force used, which resulted in some students requiring medical attention.

On Thursday 16th May 2024 at around 12.30pm, Demilitarise Lancaster posted a plea for students and staff to come to Margaret Fell lecture theatre for an “emergency protest” against the Lancaster University Council, which involved members of senior university management and some members of Lancaster University’s Students’ Union.

Members of the student group described the protest as “peaceful” with their intention only to drop a banner and deliver a one minute long speech. However, a university spokesperson challenged this claim saying: “Masked protestors forcibly entered a room where an invited speaker was speaking and shouted over them.”

As the students showed “no indication that they intended to leave” the university then then asked an “external security company” to remove the protestors to “ensure that the external speaker could finish.”

A video shared to the Demilitarise Lancaster Instagram page this morning shows members of the external security company FGH Security forcefully removing students from the building.

“As soon as we arrived, less than a sentence into [our] speech, security began physically pushing, grabbing and scratching us,” said Demilitarise Lancaster.

The video shows staff from FGH Security holding a student protester in a headlock whilst also seemingly pinning them to the ground whilst shouting to a colleague: “There’s someone on the floor, in the doorway.”

Another clip shows a female student being lifted from the ground by her bare arm by a security guard, before being forcibly dragged along the ground towards the building exit by two FGH security guards by her clothing whilst shouting “your profits are covered in Palestinian blood”.

One student is later told by a security guard “fucking warned you, get out” whilst being pushed out of the building by the back of their neck.

The protesting students have claimed that “unnecessary” force used on them by the security guards resulted in them sustaining injuries including “bruises, carpet burns and cuts” with some students even requiring medical attention.

Lancaster University has told The Tab Lancaster that it is “concerned to hear any reports of injuries” and is reviewing footage whilst FGH Security has told The Tab Lancaster it is carrying out an investigation into the incident.

The university spokesperson clarified that the protest was permitted to continue outside of the venue.

The students involved have now criticised the force used on them by security, saying: “We are shocked at this unnecessary escalation for what was a peaceful protest.

“It shows that this university is more willing to manhandle and harm its student populations than cut ties with arms companies complicit in genocide. This follows the international trend of violently repressing pro-Palestinian solidarity.”

A spokesperson for Lancaster University told The Tab Lancaster:  “Students and staff who have been moved to action by the distressing violence in the Middle East have every right to peaceful, legal protest on campus. Our university will support and uphold that right. We also know there will be staff and students who have been personally impacted by the violence in Palestine and Israel and our thoughts are with you.

“We are of course concerned to hear of any reports of injuries and would encourage students to report this formally so we can investigate.  We are reviewing footage and events with our security provider.

“The university will not tolerate any illegal or unauthorised activity that fundamentally impedes the legitimate business of the university, or risks the safety and wellbeing of our staff and students. The need for our students, staff and visitors on our campus to move around freely and without fear of harassment, and to freely express their views, including at Council, is of paramount importance to us.  

“Since the events of October 7th, the university representatives have been in regular contact with the Students’ Union as the formally recognised representatives of the student body and the related student societies concerned about events in the Middle East.

“The university remains committed to upholding the right to freedom of speech for our staff and students and enabling them to peacefully protest within the law, and its own regulations. Universities are places for people to express their views and listen to those of others – including those they do not agree with.

“The university continues to operate as normal and we will show no tolerance towards hate speech of any kind.”

Operations Director at FGH Security, Ben Knott, told The Lancaster Tab: “We are aware of an incident at Lancaster University yesterday and footage that has emerged on social media since. Our team were in attendance supporting the safety and security of an event, alongside colleagues from Lancaster University campus security.

“We are in communication with senior representatives from both Lancaster University and Lancaster University Students Union about the incident, and we are investigating the circumstances surrounding the video footage.

“FGH Security is one of the largest employers of Lancaster University students in the area and has worked with the University and Students Union for more than 20 years. Since our formation in 2003, we have kept 100,000’s of Lancaster University students safe, and our priority is, and will always be, the well-being of students. We take any allegation of disproportionate force seriously and this incident will be investigated as a matter of urgency.”

Featured images via @lancssolidaritycamp on Instagram.

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