June 19th, 2024

McGill says pro-Palestinian protest that led to 15 arrests is ‘troubling’ escalation


By The Canadian Press on June 7, 2024.

Police stand guard on the McGill University campus following a pro-Palestinian protest in Montreal, Thursday, June 6, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

MONTREAL – McGill University says a protest on Thursday that ended with 15 people arrested was a “troubling” event in a series of escalating incidents since pro-Palestinian demonstrators set up an encampment on campus more than a month ago.

In a statement to media on Friday, the university says protesters occupied its administration building, blockaded several doors, damaged furniture and yelled threats, forcing some staff to shelter in place.

McGill says it supports the right to freedom of expression within the limits of the law but condemns “the use of intimidating, aggressive, harassing or illegal tactics such as those seen yesterday.”

Police say 13 people were arrested for breaking and entering and two people were arrested for obstructing police work, after officers in riot gear used chemical irritants to forcefully disperse the crowd.

In response to the war between Israel and Hamas, Pro-Palestinian protesters set up tents on McGill’s lower field in late April, demanding the university pull its investments tied to Israel’s military and sever relationships with Israeli academic institutions. As of Friday morning, the encampment on the university’s lower field, in downtown Montreal, remained.

Véronique Dubuc, a spokesperson for Montreal police, acknowledged officers used tear gas and shields to disperse protesters on Thursday. Protesters, she said, threw objects and rocks at the officers.

Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights McGill, a student group participating in the encampment, posted a statement on Instagram as Thursday’s events unfolded, promising an “escalation” of the protest movement.

“As the Zionist forces massacre Palestinians in Rafah and Jabalia, our administration continues to shamelessly fund genocide, ignoring the collective demands of the student body and the encampment,” the group said.

“Until McGill cuts all financial and academic ties with the Zionist regime, students will carry out a forceful campaign of escalation.”

McGill blamed protesters for an impasse in negotiations, saying students at the encampment “walked away from table” last week.

Const. Jean-Pierre Brabant said Friday that calm on campus has been restored but police are maintaining a presence on Sherbrooke Street, in front of McGill University’s lower field.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 7, 2024.

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