Concordia investigating online threat, swastikas on campus, same day as altercation linked to Israel-Hamas war
Posted November 8, 2023 7:46 pm.
Last Updated November 9, 2023 6:19 pm.
Montreal police (SPVM) say a student was arrested and three people were injured during an altercation Wednesday afternoon at Concordia University linked to the Israel-Hamas war. Concordia University says it is also investigating an online threat and swastikas found on campus on the same day.
The SPVM says a conflict between two groups of students escalated on campus.
A Concordia spokesperson confirmed to CityNews it involved pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian groups — “but also people from outside our community” — at the Hall building on De Maisonneuve Boulevard.
A 22-year-old student was arrested for allegedly assaulting a 54-year-old security guard, SPVM spokesperson Const. Caroline Chèvrefils told CityNews.
A 19-year-old security guard and a 23-year-old student were also injured, police say. None of the three victims needed treatment in hospital.
Police say they were called around 1:30 p.m. and arrived to find security guards trying to manage the altercation between the two groups. The police intervention ended around 4:15 p.m.
“Our Campus Safety and Prevention Services were present and as they were concerned about the safety of people there and an agent was injured, they contacted the SPVM to clear demonstrators. We do not tolerate intimidation or violence on our campus and we will be looking further into today’s incident. The safety of our community is our priority,” a Concordia spokesperson said via email.
In a public message posted online, Graham Carr, President and vice-chancellor of Concordia University said they “have witnessed a concerning rise in acts of intimidation and intolerant behaviour. Both Jewish and Muslim members of our community have reported provocative comments, insensitive or hostile social media posts, and expressed fears for their security on campus.”
Carr referred to three separates incidents that occurred on campus on Wednesday.
“A student group issued a social media post that could reasonably be construed as inciting violence. Second, a violent altercation involving some students and some individuals external to our community occurred on the mezzanine of the Hall building. Police were called after two members of our Campus Safety and Prevention Services team who had tried to intervene were physically attacked and an ambulance had to be called. Third, swastikas were discovered in one of our buildings. The university unreservedly condemns these deplorable acts and will make every effort to identify and bring those responsible to account for their behaviour,” the message reads.
A video shared by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) on the social media platform X purported to show the altercation. The 81-second video shows individuals shouting and shoving.
In a statement, CIJA called the altercation at Concordia a display of antisemitism.
“Jewish students raising awareness of innocent civilian hostages held by a terrorist group were targeted with intimidation, threats, and physical aggression,” said Eta Yudin, vice-president (Quebec) of CIJA. “Such behaviour is completely contrary to our Quebec values.”
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante denounced the altercation on X.
“Acts of violence such as those that affected Concordia students today and the attack on a synagogue yesterday are unacceptable,” Plante wrote.
“These hateful acts have absolutely no place in Montreal; a city of peace, security and kindness.”
“More than ever, we must resist violence, stay united and demonstrate for peace.”
The video also caught the attention of Quebec cabinet ministers.
“Too many students fear for their safety, we cannot tolerate these excesses,” tweeted Quebec Higher Education Minister Pascale Déry. “I spoke earlier with the rector of @Concordia to ensure that order is restored on campus.”
Déry says she and Quebec Minister of Public Security François Bonnardel are “appeal(ing) for calm and are monitoring the situation very closely.”
“I am deeply saddened and disgusted that the actions of a few individuals have now brought us to the point that we arrived at today,” Crarr stated in his message.
“This is an immensely stressful and disturbing moment, but it is precisely in these times that we must all be determined to do our part to be caring, to show compassion and to find the best in who we are,” he concluded.