Pro-Palestinian camp | Tension rises at UQAM

Security has been increasing in recent days around the pro-Palestinian camp located on the UQAM grounds, after a weekend marked by clashes between police and demonstrators. The latter, who denounce an “excessive” police intervention, invite those interested to come and swell their ranks.

Posted at 1:33 a.m.

Updated at 5:00 a.m.

The last few days have been tense around the camp called “Al-Aqsa Popular University”, which has been established for a week on the lawn of the Pierre-Dansereau Science Complex, in downtown Montreal. According to our information, the police force had just been doubled around the scene on Tuesday evening, going from around ten to around twenty police officers.

All this comes as confrontations began last Friday evening. That day, members of the encampment sprayed graffiti on the university building behind them. We could still see these inscriptions on the wall on Tuesday, when The Press. “Down with the empire” or “Love the resistance”, we could read, among other things.

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Graffiti seen on a UQAM building during the passage of The PressTuesday

A heavy police presence was still on the scene at the time, including several officers on foot as well as patrol cars. Private security guards also roamed the area. In short, the entire perimeter seemed to be under high surveillance.

According to a police Source who is not authorized to speak publicly, patrol officers informed campers on Friday that it was an offense to spray graffiti on a public building. Some of them then allegedly threw chairs and tables at the police. Then, on Saturday, others allegedly stole fences from a construction site located in the quadrilateral delimited by the arteries De Bleury, Sherbrooke, Président-Kennedy and Jeanne-Mance.

However, the tension reportedly rose a notch on Monday, in the middle of the afternoon, when demonstrators temporarily blocked an intersection in the area of ​​Avenue du Président-Kennedy and Rue Saint-Urbain, very close to the neighborhood. General of the Police Service of the City of Montreal (SPVM).

“Protesters made barricades to block the street. When the police intervened to disperse the demonstrations, they did not want to follow orders. The demonstrators rushed towards the police officers, attacking them,” said agent Sabrina Gauthier, spokesperson for the SPVM.

An intervention deemed “disproportionate”

Meanwhile, on the campers’ side, it’s a completely different vision. On Instagram, the collective “Solidarity for the Human Rights of Palestinians”, which identifies with UQAM, denounced in reaction that the police intervention was “disproportionate”, judging that the police “violently attacked” its members, all “without notice and without notice of dispersal”, even though the activity was intended to be “festive”.

“The demonstrators were chased away with pepper spray, tear gas and baton blows into the interior courtyard of the Science Complex,” says the association, which broadcast images in which we see police officers, equipped with helmets, hitting demonstrators with sticks.

In the eyes of the collective, which calls for people to join their camp, this situation “testifies to the fear of the police to see the struggle for the liberation of Palestine expand and become popular.”

At the SPVM, Officer Gauthier confirms that irritant gas was used to “disperse the crowd.” Sticks were also used as the demonstrators rushed towards the patrol officers, she added, specifying that calm returned shortly after and that no arrests had been made.

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UQAM pro-Palestinian camp

If the police authorities do not speak of any injuries, the campers spoke on social networks of “several injuries”, including injuries to the head and face linked to blows with sticks or even to the irritant gas. Some demonstrators also have “minor wounds and bruises,” says the collective.

What demands?

When the UQAM camp was set up, the organizers first demanded the immediate withdrawal of the injunction targeting the pro-Palestinian camp at McGill University. The management of the English-speaking university appealed in vain to the Superior Court to evict the students who had been occupying its campus for two weeks. She also intends to resubmit a new one.

The demonstrators at the Pierre-Dansereau pavilion are also demanding the adoption of an “academic boycott of Israeli universities” by the entire Quebec university network.

“It is unacceptable that Quebec, through these inter-university agreements, allows students and researchers to contribute to such crimes against humanity,” a spokesperson declared last week. of the group, Leila Khaled.

At the same time, UQAM argued that its Foundation “has no investment in armaments, having adopted a responsible investment policy many years ago, and that it does not currently have any mobility agreement or framework agreement with Israeli universities.

With the collaboration of Daniel Renaud and Léa Carrier, The Press



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