Canada’s McGill Shuts Campus to End Months-Long Protest Over Gaza

(Bloomberg) -- McGill University temporarily closed its main campus in Montreal as it evicts pro-Palestinian protesters who had been camped out there for more than two months. 

McGill, one of Canada’s top institutions, hired a private security firm to clear out protesters and remove tents and other items, while police in riot gear roamed the surrounding streets, which were closed to traffic. 

As of early Wednesday afternoon, the encampment — which first went up in late April — was largely dismantled, although the grounds still contained many tarps and tents. Workers used heavy equipment to haul the detritus into garbage trucks. A crowd of a few dozen protesters peacefully massed nearby in the rain, in front of a single line of police holding bicycles. 

Universities across North America have been roiled by protests over the conflict between Israel and Hamas, with students and activists calling on universities to cut off relationships with Israeli institutions and divest from companies with ties to Israel. 

McGill administrators initially tried and failed to get a court injunction against the protesters, then attempted to negotiate a solution but gave up on that in June, stating that “no fruitful outcome” was possible. 

“The encampment is the site of profound health and safety risks that continue to grow in scope and severity,” administrators said in a note posted on McGill’s website on Wednesday. “To protect the security of the McGill community and the integrity of our property, the encampment on the lower field of the downtown campus is being dismantled.” 

The student movement, which has drawn controversy for using images of armed fighters to promote a revolutionary youth camp, had been escalating its campaign at McGill. They occupied the school’s administration building in early June and were dispersed with tear gas, leading to multiple arrests. Last week, some smashed windows on the McGill campus. 

A police officer on the scene on Wednesday told Bloomberg that McGill is exercising its rights on its own property, and that police were there to ensure the security of everyone.

Protesters at the University of Toronto took down a similar encampment last week ahead of a court-ordered deadline to leave. 


(Updates with additional information on the state of the encampment in the third paragraph.)

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