MONTREAL - Montreal police scrambled again Friday night to keepprotesters out of the Quartier des Spectacles where the secondnight of the Francofolies Festival was under way, as well as theGrand Prix events on Peel and Crescent Sts. Two different protests began at 8:30 p.m.; the nightly pots andpans, or casseroles march against raising tuition fees and theprovince s special law to limit protests began as usual at Place milie Gamelin behind the Berri-UQAM m tro station. About 400people, followed by dozens of police vehicles, as well as scores ofofficers on foot and bicycles, flooded west toward the FrancofoliesFestival site. Montreal police reported there were 12 arrests. |
Eight people werearrested for bylaw infractions and released. The other four werearrested under the Criminal Code for armed aggression, assault witha weapon and assaulting a police officer. Although police blocked access to the site itself, marchers were atone point drowning out musicians with their pot banging andcheering. Some festival goers watched the march and snappedpictures, and some marched along for several blocks. When the marchers headed south to Ste.
Catherine St., policeblocked their access, forcing them to take Ren L vesque Blvd.Here they were able to march freely, as police had blocked trafficas far west as Crescent, but riot-clad officers formed linesblocking access to Peel, Stanley, Drummond and Crescent, ensuringmarchers could not get close to Grand Prix events. Meanwhile, a protest by about 150 members of an anti-capitalistgroup decrying the excess of the Grand Prix occupied Crescent St.between de Maisonneuve Blvd. and Sherbrooke St. for about an hour. We re here to oppose how the government subsidizes the GrandPrix and bends to the will of the rich while the students are onstrike, said Guillaume Cormier, one of the protesters.
A scuffle erupted when a visitor who tried to take pictures of theprotest had his camera blocked by demonstrators. He shoved them andthe ensuing fight was quickly broken up by pepper-spraying policeofficers. The protest was peaceful with protesters chanting anti-capitalistslogans that were barely audible over the powerful sound system.Some even danced along to the band on stage. But at about 10:30 p.m., scuffles with police began to break outand several protesters were arrested.
Earlier in the evening about 50 people gathered in Dominion Squareto denounce the Grand Prix and call for political freedom and humanrights in Bahrain. One man said the protesters were targeting Montreal s Grand Prixbecause of the indifference shown to human rights protesters inBahrain when the Grand Prix was held there in April. The people in Bahrain had asked that the Grand Prix not be heldwhile these demonstrations were going on, and it went aheadanyway, said Montrealer Ramy Nash, who was one of thedemonstrators. The police were very heavy-handed because of theGrand Prix, many were arrested and two people died.
He added that he finds the Grand Prix a polluting, sexist andoffensive event that should not be here while Quebec is in themiddle of a social crisis. On Thursday night, police arrested 37 people during protests aroundthe site of a Grand Prix charity cocktail event in Little Burgundyand later near the festivities on Crescent St. Police said thosewho were arrested were brandishing weapons, one with a Molotovcocktail, or because they had committed crimes and mischief. email@example.com.
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