An Ottawa Police Service report says the cost of policing pro-Palestinian demonstrations since the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on Israel shows that more than $1.6 million was spent in the last quarter of 2023.

The total deployment cost for demonstrations in 2023 is more than $20 million, the report also noted. Monitoring pro-Palestinian protests was the third most costly category after $2.4 million on Truck Convoy 2.0, and $1.75 million on Canada Day.

“This is a dramatic and shocking number — $1.6 million spent on policing those protesting a genocide,” said James Adair, a uOttawa student. An encampment calling on the University of Ottawa to divest from any investments in Israeli companies and other changes is still in place in front of Tabaret Hall..

“It is likely that these costs will be even higher in 2024. We have seen an increase in policing on pro-Palestine protests, and an escalation in the tactics and response by the Ottawa police service,” Adair added.

He said he believes that if police actually worked with the protesters the costs could be substantially reduced.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrations have erupted over the country as Israel has carried out its war on the Gaza Strip, killing more than 37,000 people so far, according to the health ministry in Gaza. The war began on Oct. 7 when Hamas militants attacked inside Israel killing some 1,200 people, and taking 250 hostages.

A May 29 protest, when police arrested several demonstrators protesting CANSEC  — Canada’s annual global defence and security trade show organized by the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries (CADSI) also was criticized.

“I am speaking as a delegate today to the OPSB to express my disgust at the actions of the Ottawa Police Service regarding CANSEC,” said Ottawa resident Erica Englert.

“While community members have been able to protest CANSEC in previous years, this year’s horrendously disproportionate police response comes at a time where the right to protest is as important as ever.”

Frustration and harsh criticism have also been levelled at enforcement of a City of Ottawa bylaw that has led to protestors being ticketed for noise violations during a demonstration. The enforcement is seen by some as aimed at silencing Palestine supporters.

“The mistreatment of anti-genocide activists is infuriating, and will not be tolerated,” said Englert.

“Arresting community members for exercising their rights only shows the bias and corruption in the police service. The responsibility of the police is to keep these demonstrators and these demonstrations nonviolent without limiting Canadians’ right to protest.”