Several hundred protesters caused the cancellation of a speech
and of classes in the Henry F. Hall Building on Monday.
Most of the protesters stayed in the street, but some breached security
to get inside the building. When furniture was hurled from the mezzanine
to the lobby and a large window on de Maisonneuve Blvd. was broken, police
drove the crowd back with pepper spray and tear gas, and the event was
cancelled. The building was evacuated, and classes in the building were
cancelled for the rest of the day.
There were reports of ticket-holders for the event being harassed. As
occupants of H-110 were discharged into the street, there was a noisy
confrontation between the two sides, but police broke it up, and no one
The former prime minister of Israel had been invited by Hillel, the Jewish
students group, to speak at noon in the Alumni Auditorium, H-110.
The booking, made in the normal way by a student organization, caused
concern when university administrators realized that the speaker was the
hawkish Netanyahu, who was the prime minister from 1996-99.
The protesters stated aim before the event was to prevent Netanyahu
from speaking. However, security precautions were elaborate and expensive,
and it was felt that the building was secure. Students, faculty and staff
were instructed to use the Mackay St. entrance, but this proved to be
confusing as events developed.
Netanyahu was quick to denounce Canada and Concordia for not being able
to control the protesters. In a press conference at the Ritz Carlton Hotel,
he denounced the protesters totalitarian mentality,
and suggested that Concordia should be cleaned up.
For his part, Rector Frederick Lowy reacted with a strong statement
condemning the actions of protesters, and declaring a moratorium on further
events relating to Middle East politics.