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Cops Off Our Campus: A Response to the Police Brutality of June 6, 2024

On June 6th, 2024, an autonomous group of students peacefully occupied the James Administration building at McGill University in the name of Palestinian liberation. In response, university administration authorized the presence of the Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) on campus and granted them permission to enter the James Administration building. The police response included riot police (Section du support et interventions spécialisées or SIS). 

The police unequivocally displayed excessive force against protestors. Students and community members, including elderly people, were subject to pepper spray and tear gas. The brutality, documented in many independent videos, included the SPVM officers shooting tear gas canisters directly at protestors. Officers used riot shields and batons to beat protestors who had fallen to the ground while fleeing, resulting in multiple students sustaining serious injuries, including concussions after taking blows to the head. Some fallen protestors were kicked by police. 

Following these events, the McGill administration opted to retroactively manufacture consent for the police’s actions as well as their own culpability in the attacks by police against their students. In an email sent to all students and staff, they portrayed peaceful student protestors as violent and threatening. In this email, Deep Saini alleged that chants of “violence now” had been heard, an irresponsible and frankly embarrassing reframing of chants demanding that McGill “divest now.” Saini also had the audacity to state, “McGill thanks the police for their expertise in handling the situation.”

McGill is more than the McGill administration. AGSEM’s Executive Committee does not thank the police for their handling of the situation. We completely condemn the grotesque display of brutality experienced and witnessed by students on Thursday. Furthermore, we see this as the latest in a long series of increasing acts of militarization against student activism that we have witnessed this academic year. We have seen the McGill administration attempt to use the SPVM as their private security force to suppress labour and pro-Palestine activism on campus. This is unacceptable. No one is safe on a campus where police brutality is considered “expertise.” 

We call for the administration to acknowledge that the events of June 6 2024 were a demonstration of police brutality, not expertise, and to apologize to the students who were attacked by the police at the Administration’s request. 

We further reiterate the support from AGSEM’s Executive Committte and Delegates’ Council for the encampment’s demands: that McGill University Disclose all of their investments, Divest from all holdings profiting from Israeli apartheid, Defend student activists from academic sanctions and reprisal, and Declare their institutional opposition to Israeli apartheid and the genocide in Palestine.


The AGSEM Executive Committee


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