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221 Arrested at Anti-Police Brutality Protest

by Archives March 17, 2009

Two hundred twenty-one people were arrested yesterday after a mass of protesters took over several city blocks, demonstrating in Montreal’s annual anti-police brutality protest. As usual, emotions and tensions escalated quickly, and eventually turned sour.
The event, which started outside metro Mont-Royal, was organized by the Collective Opposed to Police Brutality.
According to Montreal police media relations spokesperson Elodie Pestel, of those arrested, 48 people were taken into custody on criminal charges, most of which appeared in court Monday.
The rally started peacefully around 2 p.m. A full brass band signaled the opening of the event in front of the metro doors. The event showed signs of degenerating after about one hour, when protesters started throwing everything from fruit to fireworks at police.
Fourteen-year-old Maxime Bonenfant paid $65 for a bus ticket from Mt. Tremblant to Montreal, so he and 10 of his friends could take part. “I threw rocks and vegetables at [police officers],” he said. “Because police brutality is shit. Why do you think so many people are in jail?” he asked. “It’s because of the pigs,” he said, answering his own question.
Around 3:30 p.m., police began to rush the crowd in an attempt to disperse it. At this point, organizers asked protesters to head down St. Denis St, toward Sherbrooke St.
Motorists on St. Denis were left trapped in gridlock as protesters took over the stretch between Mt. Royal Ave. and Sherbrooke St.
Traffic in the downtown core was also affected for the better part of the afternoon.
As the crowd dispersed, many protesters took refuge in the area bordered by St. Laurent Blvd. to the east, McGill College to the west, Sherbrooke St. to the north and René-Lévesque Blvd., where the crowd broke up, and things eventually died down.

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