‘Bullets’ thrown at McGill police – UQAM protests, says chief
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‘Bullets’ thrown at McGill police – UQAM protests, says chief

Fady Dagher defends police intervention after his officers were accused of using “disproportionate force”.

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Montreal Police Chief Fady Dagher is defending his department’s use of force during two recent clashes with pro-Palestinian protesters at McGill University and Université du Québec à Montréal.

Dagher said that in both incidents – at UQAM on May 20 and at McGill on June 6 – projectiles were thrown at police.

“The police were attacked. This is unacceptable,” Dagher said at a committee hearing at Montreal City Hall.

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He was responding to a member of the public who accused Montreal police of using “disproportionate force” against “peaceful protesters.”

During the McGill incident, protesters occupied the administration building. Outside, police used tear gas and shields against protesters carrying pieces of scaffolding as a barricade. Windows were broken and graffiti was sprayed on the university grounds.

Fifteen people were arrested late Thursday evening after about six hours of occupation.

Dagher stressed that the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) did not intervene in the pro-Palestinian camps at both universities.

He noted that police interventions took place outside the camps, which were set up to demand that universities divest from companies linked to Israel. UQAM protesters have since dismantled their encampment.

Dagher said: “It was not the SPVM that started this event. On the contrary, there were provocations and even bullets were thrown at the police. From the moment bullets are thrown or offenses or criminal acts occur… SPVM will intervene.”

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He said pieces of asphalt were thrown at police during the McGill protest.

Dagher said police intervened “gradually” in line with strict rules of engagement.

“The use of force is never elegant,” he said. However, “we do it in a very technical, very gradual way. And the most important thing is to protect human life, police officers and the environment.”

A group of McGill students has condemned police for their intervention on campus.

“The events of that afternoon were horrific and further exacerbated divisions between the police and the administration,” the McGill University Students’ Association said in a statement Saturday.

“While the occupation of the James Administration Building has been disturbing to some of the building’s employees, the McGill administration is unwilling to acknowledge the harm that their inaction on divestment is causing to our community.”

Protesters are demanding that McGill stop investing in Israel and sever academic ties with Israeli institutions.

The student group said it was against “campus policing and its brutality.”

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