Skip to main content

Montreal police make 1 arrest, deploy tear gas after protesters smash windows at McGill


One person was arrested Friday evening after police deployed tear gas to disperse a crowd of pro-Palestinian protesters at McGill University.

Riot police were called in after some members of the group led a march that started out peacefully at Place Jean-Riopelle shortly after 8 p.m. People chanted "Palestine will be free" as the march snaked through the downtown streets before making their way toward the university.

Protesters smash windows at the James Administration building at McGill University on Friday, July 5, 2024. (Xavier Duranleau/CTV News)

Things took a violent turn at around 9:30 p.m. when the group arrived outside the James Administration building and some members began to smash the windows to the front of the building while others looked on and chanted "divest now."

Within seconds, dozens of police officers on foot swiftly descended on the protesters, ordering them to leave.

At least one officer appeared to shove one of the protesters before she fell to the ground. Other participants came to her side and helped her up.

Montreal police descend on McGill University to disperse a crowd of protesters on Friday, July 5, 2024. (Xavier Duranleau/CTV News)

Moments later, near the administration building, officers used tear gas on four protesters.

On Saturday, police spokesperson Véronique Dubuc confirmed to CTV News that a 66-year-old man was arrested for allegedly breaking the windows at McGill and assaulting a security guard.

Montreal police deploy tear gas at protesters at McGill University on Friday, July 5, 2024. (Xavier Duranleau/CTV News)

She said two police officers suffered minor injuries during the intervention, which ended at approximately 11 p.m.

During their march, at least one protester also smashed the window of a business on Sainte-Catherine Street, while others at one point removed fencing on a street in order to block the police from reaching them, according to Dubuc.

Pro-Palestinian encampment dismantled hours earlier

Several hours earlier on Friday, a pro-Palestinian encampment was dismantled by Montreal police. The encampment was set up last month at Square Victoria in downtown Montreal.

During that police operation, which began at around 4 a.m., an 18-year-old man was arrested. 

According to police, the man had allegedly pointed a laser into the eyes of police officers a few days ago, with at least one officer temporarily injured. 

Mayor Plante responds

During a press conference, Mayor Valérie Plante said the decision to dismantle the camp was not taken lightly.

"But a demonstration cannot permanently occupy a public site. You can't occupy a public site no matter what the cause. Public space must remain public," Plante said.   

"The encampment did not allow free circulation and free access to the population, to the blue-collar workers, firefighters and police officers who are there to ensure the safety of everyone within the camp, outside and around."  

Additionally, Plante said the encampment violated municipal bylaws, which prompted the decision to dismantle the encampment "peacefully."

Protester Emma Jaubert, who was in the camp along with 15 others, described the scene when the police first arrived at the encampment.

"I'm trying to get like people... And as I'm like trying to go around, 'like riot police are here, riot police are here.' They're coming in, they throw one of our comrades on the ground and like hit them a bit, which is, you know, another example of police brutality. We've seen that a lot with our protests," the protester said in an interview.

Jaubert said the police were "very aggressive" with protesters but that they were told that they would be able to go back in and remove their belongings afterwards.

"But while they're doing this, they're also kicking our tents, damaging our stuff. And they're saying, 'Get out, get out, leave, leave, leave,' but there's only one entrance to the camp, and they're blocking it.

"And they kind of like trap us all into one corner of the camp. And we're all backed up in that corner. I think one of our comrades actually jumped the fence over it," Jaubert explained.

The pro-Palestinian encampment was set up at the square late last month.

Demonstrators are demanding that the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) "immediately divest its $14.2 billion in investments in 87 companies complicit in the Israeli occupation."

The group is also calling for Quebec's Tel Aviv office to be shut down because, they argue, "increasing trade relations and diplomatic cooperation with Israel legitimizes the genocide and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people."

McGill pro-Palestinian encampment remains

Following the dismantlement, Deep Saini, the president of McGill University, said the police intervention was an " encouraging sign" that the city and Montreal police are taking a serious approach to the encampments.

"I have every expectation that the City and SPVM will remain consistent in their approach and act swiftly to remove the encampment here as well," he said in a statement.

However, Plante said that McGill's leadership failed regarding the encampment and emphasized that McGill was the only university that had not found a peaceful solution.

"I expect McGill University to revise their strategy. That being said, they already decided to go through the courts. And this is what they have to be accountable for," Plante said.

"They chose that path right away to go to court, and now everything is linked to this decision that will be made by the court."

On Thursday, the Montreal fire service was denied access to do a safety check at the pro-Palestinian encampment at McGill University.

The visit was part of a routine inspection to make sure the encampment was free of any fire hazards or risks to the people staying there. Top Stories

Stay Connected