Police dismantle pro-Palestinian encampment at Canada’s McGill University

Police dismantle pro-Palestinian encampment at Canada’s McGill University

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Louise Thomas

McGill University closed its downtown campus on Wednesday as Montreal police descended in large numbers to help clear a pro-Palestinian encampment that has been there for weeks.

McGill president Deep Saini called the encampment at the Canadian university, one of many that had sprung up on campuses across North America since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, “a heavily fortified focal point for intimidation and violence, organized largely by individuals who are not part of our university community”.

Under pounding rain, pro-Palestinian protesters carried their belongings off campus, as bulldozers and security forces dismantled the encampment that had been on the school’s lower field.

“That was officially the last stand. There’s nobody in the encampment anymore,” said protester Félix Burt, 20, standing a block from McGill’s lower field, where a pile of tents and wooden pallets were what remained of the protest site.

A Montreal police spokesman said one person was arrested on Wednesday for assault on a security agent.

In Quebec City, Higher Education Minister Pascale Déry told reporters “it was time” to remove protesters from the encampment.

Déry said the atmosphere on campuses has become “toxic”, and expressed hope that things would be calmer by the time fall classes begin.

Zaina Karim, a McGill student who wasn’t inside the camp when the dismantlement began, said protesters will persist until the university discloses and cuts its ties with Israel.

“This is not the end at all,” Ms Karim said.

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.

Over the last few months, students on campuses across North America have built encampments, occupied buildings and led protests to call on colleges and universities to divest their endowments from companies doing business with Israel or which support its war in Gaza.

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