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Downtown McGill University Closed as Pro-Palestinian Camp Dismantled

Downtown McGill University Closed as Pro-Palestinian Camp Dismantled
Downtown McGill University Closed as Pro-Palestinian Camp Dismantled

McGill University says its city-center campus will be closed Wednesday as the pro-Palestinian camp on the lower field is dismantled.

“The camp is a place of serious health and safety risks that are increasing and becoming more serious,” the university wrote in a statement.

The school authorities say they decided to dismantle the camp because all authorities, including the police and fire brigade, were denied access to the camp.

“McGill will always support the rights of free speech and assembly within the bounds of the laws and policies that keep us all safe,” said Deep Saini, the university’s president and vice chancellor. “However, recent events have gone far beyond peaceful protest and have impeded the respectful exchange of views and ideas that is so essential to the university’s mission and our sense of community.”

A Montreal police officer stands outside McGill University on Wednesday, July 10, 2024. (Cosmo Santamaria/CTV News)

In an email sent Wednesday morning, the group Divest for Palestine Collective called the situation “absurd.”

“We were told that we were trespassing on our own campus to protest the fact that our tuition is being used to fund companies that murder Palestinians,” it noted. “As we continue to see bodies being pulled from the rubble, I promise that students will not stop fighting for divestment in this camp.”

Zeyad Abisaab, a representative of the camp at McGill University and a student at Concordia University, told CTV News the group had been threatened with arrest.

“There’s intimidation. It’s not voluntary. None of these people left voluntarily,” he said. “There’s intimidation, coercion, threats, there were dogs. It wasn’t voluntary.”

Montreal police officers stand outside McGill University as the school dismantles the pro-Palestinian camp. (Scott Prouse/CTV News)

Montreal police (SPVM) confirm they are on site at the school to supervise the operation.

“McGill hired a private security company to dismantle the camp,” explained Jean-Pierre Brabant, a spokesman for the Montreal police, adding that the police were not responsible for the operation.

He says the agency has issued an eviction notice and some people have already left the location.

Montreal police officers on the scene at McGill University after the school hired a company to dismantle the pro-Palestinian camp on the lower field. (Scott Prouse/CTV News)

In the meantime, McGill is asking students, faculty and staff to avoid the area.

“Classes normally held on the downtown campus will be taught online today,” it said. “We ask teachers to inform their students immediately.”

In addition, libraries and daycare centers are closed.

The campus is also not open to the public and all events, summer programs and activities have been canceled.