Thousands take to streets in largest protest in 2015
It’s a story familiar to Montrealers: as spring rolls around, so do student demonstrations. Saturday’s anti-austerity strike was quite possibly the biggest one of the year, drawing several thousand protesters. Student group ASSÉ declared it representative of some 50,000 students and dozens of student groups united in opposition to the Couillard government’s austerity practices. Maoists, communists, anarchists, and red squares (amongst others) joined in solidarity kicking off the start of weekly protests.
The march, which began at parc Émilie-Gamelin, took a circuitous route counterclockwise past McGill and towards the Old Port. Along the way various chants called for everything from anti-capitalism and class warfare to government accountability and educational reform.
March organizers did not provide an itinerary for the demonstration, thus making it illegal under city bylaws. Police nonetheless allowed it to continue by keeping a close but civil presence. Only one individual was arrested on charges of assaulting a police officer.
The only potentially tense moment—when the crowds seemed poised to march onto the Champlain bridge—was avoided when a cordon of police arrived at the scene.
Members of Concordia’s community, including some of its Concordia Student Union (CSU) executives, joined the march.
CSU VP Academic & Advocacy Terry Wilkings called austerity a form of financial and economic violence disproportionately affecting marginalized communities and public sector services.
“We feel this is an effective way to show solidarity with other segments of society like community groups and labour unions who have come out in support of student mobilization.” “This is the start of building a broader movement in resisting the retrenchment of the state from its social obligation.”
Photos by Andrej Ivanov
Photos by Keith Race