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Protesters try to topple Queen Victoria statue near pro-Palestinian encampment in Montreal

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Montreal police (SPVM) were called late Monday night to intervene after protesters attempted to tear down the Queen Victoria statue at Victoria Square.

This comes days after demonstrators set up a pro-Palestinian encampment in the area, a first in a public space in Montreal.

According to Montreal police spokesperson Jean-Pierre Brabant, officers patrolled the area and stopped the people trying to demolish the statue, but there were no attempts to dismantle the encampment.

Pro-Palestinian protestors would not confirm or deny if members of its group were involved.

On Tuesday, Montreal police spokesperson Sabrina Gauthier said police are keeping watch over the encampment because of two counter-protests at the site. A few dozen protesters, some carrying Israeli flags, were separated from the pro-Palestinian group with two lines of riot police.

Encampment organizers call for divestment

The "Divestment for Palestine" collective was set up at Victoria Square to demand 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."

Organizers of the encampment met the media Tuesday morning.

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

It also expressed its "unconditional solidarity" with the encampment at McGill University.

"This fight does not stop at current investments, but also at any future complicity with Israel.

To this end, we also demand that the CDPQ adopt a transparent monitoring process to guarantee respect for human rights and international law," said the collective.

The Ministry of International Relations and La Francophonie said it is "horrified" by the conflict and is calling for a "humanitarian ceasefire," in addition to "the release of the hostages."

"The presence of the Quebec office in the Canadian embassy in Tel Aviv should not be interpreted as taking a position in the conflict between Israel and Hamas," the ministry said in an email to Noovo Info regarding the request to close its office there. "As a gateway to the Middle East, the role of this office is to support companies that want to do business there."

As for the CDPQ, it says it is concerned by the current conflict and affirms that it takes these issues "very seriously."

"We are not making any new investments in a war zone until further notice," CDPQ told Noovo Info by e-mail. 

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