Two video clips have been publicly released by the 14 students who occupied the fifth floor of the James Administration building on November 10. The videos, filmed by Moe Nasr – the ninth occupier to identify himself – on his cell phone, are two of four taken over the course of the nearly two hours that the students occupied. The other videos are not being released in order to respect a number of occupiers who wish to remain anonymous. The first clip shows Susan Aberman, chief of staff for the Office of the Principal, addressing the occupiers and asking them to discuss their demands with her. Aberman has been vocal about her experience in the occupation, addressing a crowd outside of James Administration on November 11 about her experience and signing her name to a letter from office staff about their November 10 experiences.
Aberman said in an email to The Daily that, to her recollection, “This exchange took place approximately three to five minutes after the protesters forced their way into our office area and refused to identify themselves or their purpose. There was shouting prior to this exchange.”
As for her interaction with the students, Aberman said that “it was my intention at this point to attempt to defuse a tense situation and initiate a dialogue with the goal of ending this occupation. The person I was speaking to was wearing a hat and a bandana covering his face. I may have looked calm, but frankly, I was very nervous.”
Vice-Principal External Olivier Marcil is also seen in the video, though he is not shown interacting with the students. Le Délit reported last week that an occupier accused Marcil of ripping his bandana off. Marcil told Le Délit in an email that he denied the allegations, and that Dean of Law Daniel Jutras’ investigation would allow facts of the incident to be shown.
Most reports of the occupation have named only Provost Anthony Masi and Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) Morton Mendelson as senior administrators present, since they negotiated with the students.
A second clip was filmed as occupiers were removed from Principal Heather Munroe-Blum’s office. At 11 seconds into the clip, a student – identified by occupiers as Alex Timmons – is dragged by a security officer. Nasr can be heard telling Security Services that he suffers from osteoperosis as he is pushed from the room.
In a third clip, which has not been released publicly, Timmons can be seen kneeling on the floor of the reception area, allegedly having been hit in the stomach by security immediately before the video begins. He is unable to stand for over a minute, as fellow occupiers come to his aid and bring him water.
Kevin Paul, one of the occupiers, said that the occupiers decided to release the videos at this time due to “the sustained effort to misrepresent what happened on the fifth floor as part of a campaign to influence student and public opinion. We felt it was important to release these and set the record straight about what was actually happening on the fifth floor.”
According to Paul, Marcil and Aberman “were in the room for essentially the entire time of our interaction with security, [so] there’s no way they could not have witnessed the violence that we experienced.”
Paul also said that administrators and staff in the office were documenting the events, and identified both Marcil and Director of Media Relations Doug Sweet as filming the occupiers. In an interview with student media on November 14, Munroe-Blum noted that she had seen video footage, but did not go into detail about their content.