McGill University seeks injunction to remove pro-Palestinian encampment from campus

"We will remain here," says one student, as McGill University is seeking an injunction to remove the pro-Palestinian encampment from campus. Students say they are not going anywhere until their demands are met. Swidda Rassy reports.

By News Staff

McGill University has requested an injunction to dismantle the pro-Palestinian encampment on its downtown Montreal campus.

The court order, if granted, would require those participating to dismantle the encampment and to refrain from camping on or occupying the campus. The order would authorize the SPVM to enforce it, the school says.

Protesters are calling it a tactic of “repression and intimidation.”

“The administration has taken unreasonable and escalatory steps to repress us,” a protester told CityNews.

McGill made the announcement late on Friday afternoon and say they’ll be in court Monday morning to present their arguments.

In a press release, president and vice-chancellor, Deep Saini, stated that since the beginning of the encampment, they have had “many discussions” with students participating in the encampment to try to find a timely and peaceful resolution and that these talks are “still ongoing.”

Pro-Palestinian activists at their encampment on McGill University campus, in Montreal, Monday, May 6, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

McGill provided three main reasons why they decided to seek a court order.

First, the university says they are concerned about the risks that the encampment poses to safety, security, and public health.

But students tell CityNews there is no cause for concern.

“We have experts and professionals and doctors and medics that are on site to ensure that our community is following certain security guidelines and to also ensure the sanitization of the encampment,” a protester said.

Second, the university says the presence of the encampment has already attracted large numbers of protesters and counter-protesters of different viewpoints, causing tensions to escalate on campus.

Lastly, the university remains private property.

The press release goes on to state that students still have the right to protest, however, those participating in the encampment “can find other ways to exercise their right to peaceful protest within the bounds set by the law and [the university’s] policies.”

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SPHR McGill, one of the organizing groups of the encampment, says in a press release they condemn McGill University’s “shameful actions” that demonstrate they will mobilize police violence on its own students and community to “prioritize profit and donor money.”

Protesters say they are not going anywhere.

“(Students) have made their demands very clear and they are intending on staying until these demands are met,” a McGill student said.

“We will not be deterred.”

This is the second time an injunction was filed against the encampment. On April 30, a lawyer for two McGill University students filed an injunction at the Montreal courthouse requesting demonstrations not to be held within 100 metres of the entrances of the university’s 154 buildings for a period of 10 days.

The injunction was rejected by a judge the next day.

Pro-Palestinian protestors are demanding that the university cut ties with Israeli academic institutions and pull all investments from companies that operate in the country. 

Saturday marks the 15th day of the encampment since it was first erected on April 27.

Similar encampments have popped up all over North America. On Thursday, Calgary police officers forcibly removed a group of protesters from an encampment set up on the University of Calgary campus. Five people were arrested.

On Saturday morning, Edmonton police armed with batons took down the pro-Palestinian encampment at the University of Alberta. Three people were arrested, however police say they weren’t students of the university.

“We stand in full solidarity with campuses across North America who are facing police brutality and repression at the hands of their universities,” a McGill protester said.

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