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McGill encampment: Quebec judge denies injunction request to dismantle site

Click to play video: 'McGill in court in bid to remove pro-Palestinian encampment'
McGill in court in bid to remove pro-Palestinian encampment
Lawyers for McGill University went to court Monday to ask for an injunction to dismantle a pro-Palestinian encampment on school grounds. Dozens of tents went up in late April amid similar demonstrations across U.S. campuses over the Israel-Hamas conflict. Global's Amanda Jelowicki explains – May 13, 2024

A Quebec Superior Court judge rejected the request Wednesday for an injunction to dismantle a weeks-old encampment by pro-Palestinian activists at McGill University.

The ruling comes after McGill filed an application late last week to remove protesters from its campus in downtown Montreal.

Justice Marc St-Pierre wrote in his decision that McGill failed to prove an urgent need to take down the encampment. The case raises questions of fundamental and conflicting rights that are too complex to be decided quickly and require a deeper analysis, he said.

The encampment began April 27 amid a wave of similar demonstrations across universities in the United States over the Israel-Hamas conflict. Since then, dozens of tents have been pitched on McGill’s lower field.

The protesters are demanding McGill divest from companies that they say are “complicit” in Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories. They want the school to cut ties with Israeli institutions.

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Click to play video: 'University protests: New pro-Palestinian encampment at Université du Québec à Montréal'
University protests: New pro-Palestinian encampment at Université du Québec à Montréal

In court Monday, McGill lawyers argued that the encampment presents a health and safety risk and is preventing the school from holding convocation ceremonies on its property.

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Meanwhile, lawyers representing different groups of activists defended the right to protest. They countered there is no proof the encampment is dangerous and there is no urgent need to remove it.

In his decision, St-Pierre rejected McGill’s arguments. There have been no “serious or violent” incidents on campus since protesters first set up on school grounds and the university already made arrangements to hold convocation elsewhere.

McGill said in a statement Wednesday that it is “disappointed” in the ruling and that it is currently analyzing the judge’s decision.

Julius Grey, a lawyer representing some of the encampment members, said he was “very pleased” with the ruling and called it a “positive development.”

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Quebec Public Security Minister François Bonnardel said the government will take time to analyze the ruling.

“Our position remains the same and we support McGill’s request,” he said on social media.

This is the second time a Quebec Superior Court judge has weighed in on an injunction request related to the McGill encampment.

Earlier this month, an application for a provisional court order made by two students was rejected. Justice Chantal Masse ruled that the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that their access to the school was being impeded or that they would be unable to write their final exams.

with files from Global’s Gloria Henriques and The Canadian Press

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