McGill says Pro-Palestinian protest encampment has tripled in size

By Monday morning, the group of people gathered on McGill campus had grown.  (Christinne Muschi/The Canadian Press - image credit)
By Monday morning, the group of people gathered on McGill campus had grown. (Christinne Muschi/The Canadian Press - image credit)

The number of tents at the pro-Palestinian encampment on McGill University's downtown campus have tripled since Saturday, according to university officials.

Montreal protesters set up about 20 tents Saturday afternoon with the intent of staying on McGill University's lower field "indefinitely." They joined a wave of pro-Palestinian demonstrations held on campuses across the U.S. who want to see universities divest from companies with business ties to Israel.

In a statement published Monday, the university's media relations office said the situation with protesters on campus had "shifted significantly."

"We have become aware that many of them, if not the majority, are not members of the McGill community," the statements reads.

University officials also said they saw video evidence of "some people using unequivocally antisemitic language and intimidating behaviour" on campus.

WATCH | The latest from McGill campus as the protest enters its third day: 

"We condemn this in the strongest possible terms and will act quickly to investigate," university officials wrote.

Sasha Robson, a member of Independent Jewish Voices McGill who was at the encampment overnight Monday, told CBC News there were no reports of issues overnight.

Throughout the weekend, McGill University's media relations office said the protest had been peaceful. On Saturday, officials said a university security staff had instructed protesters to remove their tents, but they refused.

Christinne Muschi/The Canadian Press
Christinne Muschi/The Canadian Press

Monday morning, the Montreal chapter of the Palestinian Youth Movement called out on Instagram for supporters to come to the encampment.

The group's Instagram post said police presence was increasing on campus and asked for support to "help students protect the encampment."

Nanre Nafziger, an assistant professor in McGill's department of integrated studies in education, said she came to the encampment to support the protesting students.

"We stand by them," she said. "They have the right to protest. They have the right to make demands of the university and we also want to stand by and let them know we are in support of them fully."

Lauren McCallum/CBC
Lauren McCallum/CBC

Pearl Eliadis, a human rights lawyer and associate professor at McGill, told CBC Daybreak in an interview that the university may go to court to seek an injunction to have the protesters removed.

"The question really is the extent to which McGill is prepared to go up against people who are protesting peacefully," she said, "and I underline the word peacefully because any change from that means that they lose their right to protest."