McGill goes to court to dismantle pro-Palestinian encampment

McGill University has requested an injunction from the Superior Court to dismantle the pro-Palestinian encampment that has occupied its campus for nearly two weeks.

This was announced by McGill President Deep Saini in an email addressed to the university community on Friday afternoon.

If the Superior Court grants the University’s request, the order would force the people occupying the encampment to dismantle it, and prevent them from occupying the university’s downtown campus. “This order would also authorize the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) to carry out an intervention,” we can read in the email.

The rector notably cited the “risks” to health and safety that the camp poses. “No representative of the University or of organizations such as the Montreal Fire Department was able to enter the camp to check whether it complied with health and safety standards,” said Deep Saini, in his e-mail.

According to Deep Saini, the encampment could “give rise to unpredictable situations, compromising security”. The rector affirmed that the demonstrations and counter-demonstrations which the campus has been the scene of since the arrival of the encampment are causing “tensions” which “could escalate”.

Even if the order is issued, McGill University assured that it intended to “continue, in good faith” its discussions with the members of the encampment.

“Completely taken by surprise”

The announcement did nothing to demotivate the protesters, who reiterated their desire to stay on campus during a press conference Friday evening. Later in the evening, the atmosphere was festive: demonstrators wearing keffiyehs sang traditional Jewish songs in front of the encampment, while others chatted in small groups on the lawn of McGill University.

“We were completely taken by surprise,” said a spokesperson for the camp, according to whom the demonstrators have been discussing “in good faith” with the university administration for two weeks.

We consistently offered them solutions, we thought they were taking us seriously, but they chose to turn to legal tactics instead.

A spokesperson for the camp

As for the security concerns expressed by the rector, the spokesperson assured that they are unfounded. “A safety inspector came, we followed his recommendations, and we have doctors on site. »

Faced with potential dismantling, the position of the demonstrators is unequivocal. ” We stay. We are not leaving anytime soon,” said the spokesperson.

A first request refused

This is the second request for an injunction targeting the pro-Palestinian encampment at McGill. The first request, filed on April 30, aimed to prevent demonstrators from protesting within 100 meters of the university buildings.

The plaintiffs, two students, accused the demonstrators of creating a “hostile” and “dangerous” environment, but the Superior Court refused their request, deeming their evidence too fragile. Since the applicants had not themselves suffered harassment or threats, their fears were “largely subjective”, based on “isolated events”, according to judge Chantal Masse.

McGill University has been asking protesters to leave campus for nearly two weeks. The administration did not call on the police to intervene on campus, but agents from the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) have been monitoring the encampment since the first tents appeared.

As McGill University is a private place, the decision to dismantle the encampment rests with the administration.

Across North America

The protest encampment established at McGill is part of a larger movement of pro-Palestinian encampments, which began at Columbia University in New York in mid-April.

Since then, anger and tents have spread across the campuses of many universities across North America. Students are calling on their universities to withdraw investments in companies that benefit the military and the State of Israel. In the United States, hundreds of arrests have been made in connection with the encampments.

On certain campuses, such as that of the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), the dismantling of pro-Palestinian encampments has led to violent clashes between police and demonstrators. At the University of Portland, protesters barricaded themselves in a campus library, leading to the arrest of a dozen people.

Other encampments were dismantled with the cooperation of protesters. At Brown University in Rhode Island, protesters calmly packed up their tents after the administration agreed to hear their demands.

With the collaboration of Léa Carrier, The Press


Leave a Comment