Montreal police say a 22-year-old student was arrested Wednesday after allegedly assaulting a 54-year-old security guard at Concordia University during a violent altercation involving several people who align with opposing sides of the conflict in Israel and Gaza.
Around 1:30 p.m., calls were made to 911 regarding a conflict on de Maisonneuve Boulevard near Mackay Street in the Ville-Marie borough, according to Montreal police spokesperson Const. Caroline Chèvrefils.
When police arrived on the scene, they assisted security guards who were trying to manage a conflict between several students, she said.
The altercation began with an argument between two groups of students who have opposing views about the war in the Middle East, she said. It then escalated to violence.
During their intervention, police arrested a 22-year-old student for allegedly assaulting the security guard. He was then released on a promise to appear in court, Chèvrefils said.
A second security guard,19, and another student, 23, were injured by assaults during the altercation.
All three people suffered non-life-threatening injuries and were not transported to hospital.
Police were on the scene until 4:15 p.m., Chèvrefils said, and the investigation is ongoing.
In a joint news release, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) and the the Federation CJA said a group of Jewish students from Concordia University were trying to raise awareness about the 242 hostages held by Hamas militants in Gaza when they were were confronted by an angry crowd who harassed them verbally and physically.
The Jewish students had set up a table with posters of the hostages and other materials in a common area reserved for such activities. Jewish students were pushed around, harassed and faced a barrage of hate speech, including slurs, the release says.
“These anti-Semitic and violent acts are completely unacceptable and must be condemned by all,” said Yair Szlak, president and CEO of Federation CJA, in the release. “College campuses are not battlefields.”
Mayor Valérie Plante also condemned the violence on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“Acts of violence such as those that affected Concordia students today and the attack on a synagogue yesterday are unacceptable,” she said.
She was referring to the police investigation into remnants of Molotov cocktails that were found at a synagogue and Jewish community centre in the Montreal suburb of Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Que., overnight Monday.
“These hateful acts have absolutely no place in Montreal: A city of peace, security and kindness,” she said.
Plante said each event like this will be investigated by Montreal police, which will not hold back when it comes to maintaining security. She called on people to resist violence, and instead stay united while demonstrating for peace.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also weighed in, saying that Canada needs to be a model for how to get through this conflict between Hamas and Israel.
“That’s the responsibility of every single Canadian to see how we are recognizing each other’s pain and fear and move forward on it,” he said.