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Police halt pro-Palestinian encampment at Quebec’s City’s Université Laval

MONTREAL — Quebec City police say they have forced protesters to dismantle a pro-Palestinian encampment that was being set up on the grounds of Université Laval.

The force said today that three people were given tickets and one was detained and taken to the police station to prevent a repeat offence.

Police issued a statement saying they arrived on school property Saturday evening to find a protest involving about 30 people, including some who were setting up an encampment.

They say officers explained that the camp violates a municipal bylaw prohibiting people from setting up tents and other structures on public property without permission.

A spokesperson for a pro-Palestinian student group confirmed that protesters agreed to take down their tents to avoid having the police dismantle the camp by force.

Antoine Grenier of mouvement des étudiants de l’Université Laval pour la Palestine says he feels authorities are stifling the students’ right to peacefully join the university campus movement against the Israel-Hamas war.

“We saw this as a way to not let us exercise our right to demonstrate on campus, even though we were doing it in a completely peaceful way, toward a genocide that is happening on the other side of the ocean,” he said in an interview on Sunday.

“They gave us 10 minutes to collect our things, as otherwise the 40 police officers who were there were going to enter the camp and do it by force. So yes, we made the decision to take our tents down and to continue demonstrating without tents on campus for the rest of the day.”

Quebec City police said protesters were required to take down the tents, but the demonstration was able to continue. Grenier confirmed the protesters stayed on the site until about 11 p.m.

Pro-Palestinian encampments have been set up on several Canadian university campuses in recent weeks, following a wave of similar protests in the United States.

The Université Laval protesters are demanding the university disclose all its investments and partnerships that are linked to Israel, call for a ceasefire and denounce the Israeli state’s actions against the Palestinian people, and commit to divesting from companies complicit in what they call a genocide.

Last week, pro-Palestinian protesters at Université du Québec à Montréal agreed to dismantle their encampment in the coming days after the university adopted a resolution meeting many of their demands, including a call for a ceasefire and a promise to hold no direct investments in companies profiting from weapons manufacturing.

Another encampment has been in place since the end of April at Montreal’s McGill university, with no sign of an agreement between protesters and the school.

It’s a similar story at the University of Toronto, where an encampment has been in place since early May and is poised to remain as convocation ceremonies get underway on Monday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 2, 2024.

Coralie Laplante, The Canadian Press

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