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Pro-Palestinian protesters have been occupying Montreal campus since April

‘This needs to stop,’ president says after alleged assault of security guard

The president of McGill University urged pro-Palestinian protesters to stop their “unlawful activities” Monday after a clash with police Friday resulted in a security guard allegedly being assaulted.

“It should be clear to everyone that attacks on people and property do not represent the legitimate exercise of anyone’s rights to free expression or assembly. Nor do they constitute peaceful protest. This needs to stop,” President Deep Saini said in a statement on the university website.

Protesters have been encamped on the Montreal campus since April 27, and they promised to keep fighting until the university agrees to their divestment demands, The Montreal Gazette reports.

One group, Palestine Action Montréal, told “protesters to ‘escalate’ beyond ‘symbolic action’ because ‘we know power won’t move unless we strike fear in the heart of the ruling class and pose a threat to their reproduction of capital,’” according to the report.

The Gazette continues:

On Friday night, supporters of the McGill encampment marched to the university from Victoria Square, where police and the City of Montreal had dismantled a similar encampment earlier that day. …

Police said the protesters placed obstructions in the street to block officers.

Officers — out in force on foot, bike and horseback — dispersed the demonstrators using chemical irritants after they showed a “hostile attitude,” police said.

A 66-year-old man was arrested for allegedly assaulting a McGill security guard and mischief for smashing windows. Two police officers suffered minor injuries.

Saini said in the statement the security guard was not seriously harmed. He also said protesters “targeted several university buildings with acts of vandalism, breaking windows and spray-painting slogans and profanities.”

“My team and I are working daily to restore peace and stability on our campus. I will report back to our community shortly on our next steps,” he said.

The McGill chapter of Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights, one of the groups involved in the campus Gaza Solidarity Encampment, stated in an Instagram post that a woman also was injured during the Friday clash with police.

“‘F— the dismantling! Globalize the Intifada!’ Montreal police riot cops attack a woman injured by police and demonstrators trying to help her,” the chapter wrote, posting a video of the alleged attack.

In a post Monday that included a photo of a smashed glass window, the chapter wrote the university “shamelessly doubled down on its complicity in the genocide of the Palestinian people.”

“The SPVM [Montreal police] and the McGill administration escalated in their tactics of repression and so did we,” it wrote.

The pro-Palestinian chapter also accused the university of “suppressing every tactic of mobilization that the students have employed,” including a divestment referendum.

In the post, the group stated “there will be no business as usual” at McGill until the university divests and students “have a stake in forcibly dismantling institutions … that profit from the mass death and destruction of people anywhere.”

President Saini, in a statement Friday prior to the clash, said the encampment on campus has become a “major safety” problem, citing problems with “hygiene, security, and fire safety.”

He expressed hope city leaders and police would take action “swiftly to remove the encampment.”

However, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante “blamed the university for attempting to use the courts to forcibly remove protesters instead of peacefully negotiating with them like the administration of Université du Québec à Montréal,” The Canadian Press reports.

According to a Gazette op-ed by Allison Hanes, the protesters’ encampment was still on campus Tuesday.

MORE: Columbia ‘permanently removes’ three administrators caught mocking antisemitism panel

IMAGE: Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights McGill/Instagram

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About the Author
Micaiah Bilger is an assistant editor at The College Fix.