Riot police put an end to the second nighttime student march of 2015.
What seemed to be a relatively peaceful protest at first ended abruptly when riot police engaged the students by deploying pepper spray, tear gas, and stun grenades to break up the march on Friday night.
Protestors met with riot police at Dominion Square during Friday’s march after the protest was deemed illegal, an hour after it started. The riot police was sent in to split up and disperse the thousands of protestors that gathered. Police officers later kettled in three small groups of protestors around Sainte Catherine Street and got them to disperse as well. According to the Montreal Gazette, one arrest has been confirmed for assault of an officer.
It was the second altercation protestors and the SPVM had, the first one happening on the corner of Union Street and Sainte Catherine Street. The march stopped in the middle of the intersection, with a group of people facing off and taunting officers with a police tape. One man was seen wearing a pig’s mask. The scuffle ended as fast as it started, with police officers pepper-spraying the crowd and the crowd pushing into them, but finally stepping back. The protestors then doubled back towards Bleury Street and Sainte Catherine.
The protest, named Ostie de Grosse Manif de Nuit: Prise Deux – translated as “Big Fucking Night Protest: Take Two,” – started peacefully at Parc Émilie-Gamelin, where students gathered to start the second night protest in their fight against austerity measures. Many crowded around the entrance of the Berri-UQAM metro station, chanting and playing music. As protestors gathered to start the march, the protest was deemed legal, as long as the direction of traffic is obeyed. When SPVM officers made the announcement, the crowd met it with jeering and curses, voicing their disgust with the police service. They even went as far as to start yelling in French “No cops in our protests!”
Protestors marched, chanting and singing through the streets of Montreal. One of those chants included the French “We stole nothing! You steal lives!” The chant, directed at police, is a new twist on the protestors’ previous chant. It mirrors the motto of the public syndicates protest against cuts in their retirement funds. The march snaked through the streets, winding across Montreal’s downtown core, sometimes following the direction of traffic, and other times walking amongst the cars. At times, drivers were honking, and cheering the protestors on, showing support of their cause. Montreal has seen many protests in the last week, and many more are scheduled, including one on Saturday and a major march on April 2nd.
Assistant photo editor Andrej Ivanov is covering the anti-austerity demonstrations developing in downtown Montreal this week. Follow him on Twitter, @andrejiphoto, and at our account, @TheConcordian.