Student occupiers ‘locked in’ Parkinson Building confirm they can leave ‘through fire exit’

Leeds Palestinian Solidarity Group and Student Rebellion said that food and supplies are delivered inside the building between ‘certain hours’


Student protestors occupying the University of Leeds’ Parkinson Building have confirmed that they are in fact able to leave the building.

On Friday afternoon, Leeds Palestinian Solidarity Group (PSG) and Student Rebellion (SR) Leeds claimed that student occupiers had been “locked in” after the University of Leeds shut the building earlier than the agreed upon time and rescinded its offer to meet.

But the student groups have since confirmed that after security locked the main entrances, the people inside “could leave the Parkinson Building through a fire exit, but that they could not re-enter the building”.

Student protestors entered the Parkinson Building at 2pm on Thursday afternoon, where they set up tents and inflatable beds. The group erected a banner on the first floor railings that overlook the main concourse reading “Arms off campus” and shared chants of “Our university is complicit”, “Ceasefire now”, “Israel is a terror state”, “Free, free Palestine”.

Calling for the University of Leeds to condemn Israeli genocide, create a safe space for people to protest and ban war criminals from its campus, students notified the university on Thursday that they would continue to occupy the building until an official from the University of Leeds meets with them for discussion.

On Friday afternoon, Leeds PSG and SR Leeds claimed that security at the University of Leeds locked the main entrances to the Parkinson Building earlier than when they agreed, without notifying students of the “three and a half hour early closure”.

They explained that students who had vacated the building but who had left items inside, including medicine, found “they could not re enter through the public access entrances, which had been negotiated between students and security to stay open until 8pm.”

Students also alleged that they were later told on Friday evening that no students or supplies could enter the Parkinson Building, with security explaining that students inside “could leave the Parkinson Building through a fire exit, but that they could not re-enter the building.”

Claiming that this put students “in a position of choosing between eating or their principles”, the student coalition confirmed that occupiers instead “chose to stick to their principles and stay in the building.”

An emergency rally organised by students on Friday evening saw around 100 members of the local community gather at the Parkinson Building steps in response to the “lock down”.

Negotiations between the student groups and a Leeds University Union (LUU) representative resulted in students being allowed to leave and re-enter the Parkinson Building on Saturday in between the hours of 2pm and 5pm for them to join the city-wide Palestine protest. 

They confirmed that the university also agreed to allow food and supplies to be delivered to student occupiers inside the building between “certain hours”, which were confirmed on Sunday to be between 8am and 10am, 12pm and 2pm, and between 5pm and 7pm.

At a preliminary meeting held between occupying students and the Chief executive of LUU, the Deputy Secretary of the University of Leeds, the University Librarian and Keeper of the Brotherton Collection, students claimed that UoL representatives were ” ill prepared” and “unable to give any clarity on any of the demands raised by the student protesters that had been repeatedly raised over the last six months in student walk outs”. 

Students claim they were told at the meeting that the Parkinson Building will be open as normal on Monday, from 8am until 8pm. They also claim that they “were not given any reassurance of no disciplinary action” surrounding their occupation.

The University of Leeds has been contacted for comment. 

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Featured image via Instagram @leedspsg