Students and security caught in a standoff as protesters join occupation

The University of Sussex is to seek a court injunction against protesters occupying the conference centre of Bramber House.

The hearing, which started at 10am, could give the University the power to evict the students from the occupied space by force if necessary.

As of 2pm, there have been unconfirmed reports that the University has been granted a possession order, with occupying students concerned that an eviction could take place at any time.

Meanwhile, a second demonstration turned violent after a five minute standoff between student protesters and security. Roughly 15 students were able to push past security to enter the building and join the occupation via a side entrance. More than 100 people, calling for the University to support Mr Onikosi, attended the rally at 1pm.

A document, posted on a door in Bramber House, explains the University’s case saying: ‘Further persons unknown are being encouraged to participate in the ongoing trespass at the Campus. The Defendants and further persons unknown threaten to commit acts of trespass upon the Campus unless restrained by the Court.’

A statement by the occupying students, posted on the Free Education Sussex Facebook page, admits: “legally the conference centre is considered ‘private’ property, so we have very little chance of winning the case, especially since we have been allowed only a few hours to prepare (common practice is to allow two working days). We cannot compete with the University’s ability to pay for expensive lawyers at short notice.”

It adds: “We will not be sending a representative to court today since that person is then at risk of being accused of being a ‘ring-leader’ despite us being a horizontal campaign. The person representing may be charged with a cost order which we cannot afford to fund.”

The hearing comes as the occupation enters its third day, with another demonstration planned for 1pm outside of the occupied building.

In an interview with UniTV, one of the protesters explained that demonstrators were “punched and kicked by security” as they tried to join others in the occupation after yesterday’s more than 100-strong demonstration. They reaffirmed that the occupiers “do not want to use violence” and that their protest is a non-violent one.

When asked about what they plan on doing if the University does not meet the demands made, they said they “plan to stay as long as possible”, adding that eviction is by no means the end of the #DontDeportLuqman campaign.

On March 9th, students stormed Bramber House and occupied the conference centre to demand the University support Luqman Onikosi, a former Sussex student with Hepatitis B who faces deportation back to Nigeria. Deportation could result in him being unable to receive proper medical care, with attempts by him to stay in Britain on medical grounds being rejected by the Home Office.