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Police dismantle pro-Palestinian camp in Montreal

Police dismantle pro-Palestinian camp in Montreal
Police dismantle pro-Palestinian camp in Montreal

Police have evicted protesters from the pro-Palestinian camp set up last month in Square Victoria in downtown Montreal.

During the police operation that started around 4:00 am, an 18-year-old man was arrested.

According to the police, the man allegedly shot officers in the eyes with a laser a few days ago, temporarily injuring at least one officer.

Mayor Valérie Plante said at a press conference that the decision to dismantle the camp had not been taken lightly.

“But a demonstration cannot permanently occupy a public space. You cannot occupy a public space, regardless of the cause. Public space must remain public,” Plante said.

“The camp did not allow free passage and free access for the population, the workers, firefighters and police officers who were there to ensure the safety of everyone in the camp, outside and around it.”

Plante also said the camp was in violation of municipal regulations, leading to the decision to dismantle the camp “peacefully.”

Protester Emma Jaubert, who was at the camp with 15 others, described the scene when police first arrived at the camp.

“I’m trying to grab people… And as I’m trying to go around, like, ‘The riot police are here, the riot police are here.’ They come in, throw one of our comrades to the ground and beat them up a little bit, which, you know, is another example of police brutality. We’ve seen that a lot in our protests,” the protester said in an interview.

According to Jaubert, the police were “very aggressive” towards the protesters, but they were told they could go back inside afterwards to take their belongings.

“But while they are doing this, they are also kicking our tents, damaging our things. And they are saying, ‘Go away, go away, go away, go away, go away,’ but there is only one entrance to the camp, and they are blocking it.

“And they locked us all in a corner of the camp. And we were all stuck in that corner. I think one of our comrades jumped over the fence,” Jaubert explained.

The pro-Palestinian camp was set up in the square late last month.

Protesters are demanding that the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) “immediately divest its $14.2 billion in investments in 87 companies complicit in the Israeli occupation.”

The group is also calling for the closure of the Tel Aviv office in Quebec, saying “intensifying trade ties and diplomatic cooperation with Israel legitimizes the genocide and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people.”

McGill’s pro-Palestinian camp continues to exist

After the dismantling, Deep Saini, the president of McGill University, said the police intervention was an “encouraging sign” that the city and Montreal police are taking the camps seriously.

“I expect the municipality and the SPVM to continue their approach consistently and take swift action to remove the camp here too,” he said in a statement.

However, Plante said McGill’s leadership regarding the camp was inadequate and stressed that McGill was the only university that had not found a peaceful resolution.

“I expect McGill University to rethink their strategy. That said, they have already decided to go through the courts. And this is what they have to answer for,” Plante said.

“They immediately chose that path, namely to go to court, and now everything depends on the decision the judge will make.”

On Thursday, Montreal firefighters were denied access to conduct a security check at the pro-Palestinian camp at McGill University.

The visit was part of a routine inspection to ensure the camp did not pose a fire hazard or other risk to the people staying there.