Police use tear gas to break up anti-Israel protest on McGill campus, 15 arrested

Police in riot gear approached the crowd outside the building and fired tear gas to disperse the crowd around 7 pm.

Police use tear gas to break up anti-Israel protest on McGill campus, 15 arrested
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Giuseppe Valiante
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Fifteen people were arrested after Montreal police (SPVM) used tear gas and other anti-rioting measures against pro-Hamas protesters at McGill University on Thursday evening.

The escalation came after protesters barricaded themselves in the administration building just a short walk from where they set up an encampment beginning in April.

Police in riot gear approached the crowd outside the building and fired tear gas to disperse the crowd around 7 pm. The crowd reformed after and used several large items like shelves and ladders to build a barricade between themselves and police, video obtained by CTV News shows.

Tear gas and pepper spray were then used and the crowd dispersed.

A representative for the group leading the occupation said that the school has "repressed every institutional channel through which they expressed the student will for a policy against genocide."

Protesters have called for McGill to divest financial holdings in companies linked to the Israel-Hamas war.

The Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) said that Lockheed Martin, Elbit Systems, and Thales were all companies that they wanted McGill to divest from and boycott.

A spokesperson for SPHR McGill said that the group is not preventing anyone from leaving the building, but said there was roughly 50 to 60 protesters present and were calling for more to join.

Police say the operation ended at around 10:30 pm and 13 people were arrested for breaking and entering. Two others were arrested for obstructing police work.

McGill University thanked the SPVM for their " expertise in handling the situation."

"Some staff were forced to shelter in place while those occupying the building banged on the doors and yelled threats," the university said. "Staff working in the building reported that they heard chants of 'violence now.'"

McGill said it supports freedom of expression but condemned the use of "intimidating, aggressive, harassing or illegal tactics."

"None of this is peaceful protesting; it is designed to threaten, coerce and scare people," said the institution. "It is completely unacceptable."

"McGill’s offer, which is comparable to that made by other universities who have reached resolutions, has been rejected by the encampment on our campus," it continued.

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