McGill University says encampment at downtown campus being dismantled

McGill University says encampment at downtown campus being dismantled

McGill University closed its downtown campus as Montreal police descended in large numbers to help clear a pro-Palestinian encampment.

The university said Wednesday the more-than-10-week-old encampment was being dismantled.

McGill president Deep Saini said the university was dismantling the camp in “close collaboration” with the city and police, and through the “engagement of a qualified security firm.”

“This camp was not a peaceful protest,” Saini said, in a written statement posted to the university’s website Wednesday.

“It was a heavily fortified focal point for intimidation and violence, organized largely by individuals who are not part of our university community.”

Police, some dressed in riot gear, cordoned off streets leading to the site of the encampment at the university’s lower field, blocking access, while a crowd of demonstrators gathered by the police line.

“The students are steadfast in their struggle,” said Zeyad Abisaab, a Concordia University student, who looked on from the street and said he had previously been part of a student-led Palestinian solidarity group.

A group of protesters stood in front of the encampment, facing construction equipment that had been brought in to remove them. Neither police, security agents nor construction workers had moved in to dismantle the encampment as of about 8 a.m.

McGill said classes typically held on campus would be moved online as it advised students and faculty to stay away. Libraries and campus daycares were also closed.

Campus protesters have demanded the university end its investments connected to Israel’s military and cuts ties with Israeli institutions over the offensive in Gaza.

A pro-Palestinian encampment in the heart of Montreal’s financial district was dismantled by police last week.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 10, 2024. 

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