In January, Student Rights reported on the protest which shut down an event featuring Ami Ayalon, the former Director of Israel’s internal security service Shin Bet, at King’s College London (KCL).
The protesters disrupted the event from the start by chanting “Free, Free Palestine” and then preceded to bang on the building’s windows and doors, smashing glass and setting off multiple fire alarms.
Eventually, the police arrived and the event finished half an hour early as the building was evacuated.
After the event, the president of KCL Israel Society, Ester Endfield, told the Jewish Chronicle:
“At one point I was against the door and Joseph [Stoll, the society’s vice president] was protecting me. I was crying because I was scared and didn’t know what to do.This girl hit me and my phone dropped out of my hand. I was trying to film, she just came up to me and hit me on my arm. Some people were trying to punch the door to get into the room. They were very aggressive and angry. It was completely unacceptable.”
On Wednesday morning, the protestor in question, Ivana Bevilaqua, was convicted for assault by beating and ordered to pay £200 costs, plus £100 compensation to Endfield.
Bevilaqua, a politics student who stood for the position of Student Union Academic Affairs Officer at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) this year, told the court: “I just wanted to speak to this war criminal”.
Here at Student Rights, we believe all students should have an opportunity to challenge speakers they find controversial or engage in peaceful protest, yet Bevilaqua and her fellow activists did neither.
Instead, an event was forced to finish early as a result of their intimidation and damage to property, and a student was assaulted as a result of an event she had organised.
After the protest, KCL announced an investigation and new actions to ensure similar disruptions do not happen again.
Student Rights hopes this sort of behaviour will not return to the campus in the forthcoming academic year, and that Bevilaqua’s conviction will be a lesson to activists that they cannot attack those they disagree with and get away with it.