Protest group Tent City has left Central Village residence following an eviction order from the University. Volunteers and homeless people from the campaign group began leaving on Tuesday after five days camping on land outside the student halls. Activists from Leeds Voice for the Homeless started arriving at Central Village last Thursday. A University source told The Gryphon there were up to 30 people at the site.
The University had successfully gained a court order to evict the campaigners, although they left voluntarily.
Police responded to several anti-social behaviour incidents on campus which were allegedly linked to the group. A man was arrested on suspicion of carrying drugs and a knife near the multi-story car park. A local supermarket also reported shoplifting allegedly carried out by an individual from the group. There were also reports of fighting and urinating outside the student halls.
However, a source told The Gryphon that protesters had “engaged with the University quite positively” during their occupation on campus.
However, one student reported that the protesters had been “starting fires outside my flat at 1am”.
Another Central Village resident tweeted that they “Can’t even deal with the homeless people and their “tent city” on my accommodation any more.”
Responding to the allegations, a Tent City spokesperson called Ricky said, “We had brought together people with some very diverse problems relating from mental health to addictions and alcohol use. Without Tent City, their problems would never have been addressed. Unfortunately, somebody’s land needed occupying and the University gave our volunteers and homeless security via manned teams and CCTV.”
He added, “All homeless people have weapons, every last one of them. They usually live alone and are constantly beaten and robbed.”
The group have been forced to move their tents three times since starting their campaign outside Leeds Art Gallery last month. Four people were arrested after an attack on protesters in the city centre on Wednesday 5th October.
The group has now ended its 18-day ‘tent-city’ campaign, which aimed to highlight the issue of homelessness in Leeds.
The protest was run by a group called Leeds Voice for the Homeless and, during the campaign, they pitched dozens of tents at four different sites, an effort which they say has helped secure permanent or temporary housing for 31 homeless people.
Ricky from Tent City told The Gryphon, “We are just returning to running the street kitchens and clothes banks like we did before Tent City came about.”
A University spokesperson explained: “The protestors set up tents outside student accommodation last week. Their protest was not aimed at either the University or its students. Our priority is the security and welfare of our students, so we immediately put in place round-the-clock security to ensure, for example, that none of the protesters entered any of the residential blocks.”
“The land was occupied unlawfully and the protestors were asked to move on. The University had begun proceedings to regain possession of the site through the courts, but in the event the protesters left voluntarily”.
(Image: Rabaeeah Moeen)