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McGill in court seeking injunction against pro-Palestinian encampment

University cites ‘security, safety and public health risk’ and escalating tensions on campus
A tent with free supplies is seen at the pro-Palestinian encampment on McGill University campus Monday, May 6, 2024 in Montreal. Lawyers for McGill University will be going to court today seeking a court injunction to dismantle the pro-Palestinian encampment that has been erected on its grounds since last month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Lawyers for Montreal’s McGill University are in court this morning seeking an injunction to dismantle the pro-Palestinian encampment that has been on its downtown campus since last month.

In a judicial application dated Friday, McGill says the encampment poses a “security, safety and public health risk” and has escalated tensions on campus.

McGill cites “fierce verbal exchanges” between protesters and counter-protesters earlier this month, barrels of possible “human waste” on site, possible fire code breaches and the encampment’s potential as a “magnet” for further clashes with counter-demonstrators.

The university is asking a judge to order the protesters to stop camping on or occupying its grounds and to authorize Montreal police to assist the school in dismantling the encampment.

The protesters are demanding the university divest from companies they say are complicit in what they describe as Israel’s occupation of Palestine, and cut ties with Israeli institutions.

Scott Weinstein, with Independent Jewish Voices Canada, told reporters at the courthouse today that doctors and nurses have visited the encampment and reject the university’s claim that it is unsafe.

Weinstein says the university is hypocritical by using sanitation issues as a reason to eject the protesters, because he says McGill has refused to allow portable toilets to be installed at the encampment.

The protesters fenced off an area containing dozens of tents on McGill’s lower field on April 27, following a wave of similar campus protests in the United States.

McGill President Deep Saini issued a statement on Friday saying the university is committed to discussing the protesters’ concerns in good faith, even if a court order is granted to remove them.

READ ALSO: New pro-Palestinian encampment begins at Montreal university, organizers say