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McGill University seeks emergency injunction to dismantle pro-Palestinian encampment

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McGill University has filed an urgent request for an injunction to have the pro-Palestinian encampment dismantled from its campus.

Citing health and safety concerns associated with the "unprecedented" encampment that was set up on April 27, the university is asking the judge to grant a temporary injunction and authorize Montreal police to "arrest and remove any person" who violates the judgment. It is also seeking a permanent injunction to prevent anyone from setting up another encampment on its campus.

For nearly two weeks, members of the encampment have been calling on the university, as well as Concordia University, to divest from companies protesters claim are "funding Israeli genocide" in Gaza.

Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR), one of the groups representing the encampment, said in a statement early Friday evening that "We condemn McGill University’s shameful actions that demonstrate they will mobilise police violence on its own students and community to prioritise profit and donor money."

Representatives held a news conference at McGill on Friday evening and said they would remain on site until their demands are met.

Representatives in the encampment at McGill said they are 'here to stay.'

A previous injunction request, filed by two McGill students, failed after a judge ruled it would infringe on the protesters' right to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly.

The university claims "it has no other choice" but to seek legal action as the protesters have vowed to stay put until their demands are met and Montreal police have so far not intervened.

"The state of the encampment coupled with the palpable tensions that stand to arise between its participants and those who oppose their views risk compromising the safety and well-being of McGill students, staff and other members of its community," McGill wrote in its court filing.

McGill spent $700K relocating spring convocation: court document

McGill cited health and safety concerns since April 27, including no clear emergency exits in the encampment, the Montreal fire department being blocked access to the site, barrels of human waste inside the camp, and one fire exit being blocked outside the nearby McLennan Library building.

It said it has also more than doubled the number of security guards on campus. With the spring convocation days away, the university said it has had to relocate the events to another venue at a cost of more than $700,000.

One the same day the previous injunction request was dismissed, McGill president Deep Saini said he would be open to a dialogue with the protesters about their demands on the condition that the encampment be removed.

The dialogue is ongoing, according to the court document, however McGill said it is not convinced that the group would dismantle the encampment if a resolution is reached "because there is no clear leadership within the encampment, and it is not clear that anyone within it has the authority to make decisions that others must or will accept."

"It is clear that without the immediate intervention of this Honorable Court, the state of the Encampment, now a guarded, gated community, will only worsen as time passes," the court filing states, "and the concerns for safety and the sanitary conditions will continue to increase."

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