Five arrested at anti-tuition protest in Montreal

Over 2,000 students protested against tuition hikes

Here’s a bit of an update on yesterday’s tuition protest in Montreal.

Five protesters were arrested. According to police they’ll be facing charges including mischief and assaulting a police officer.

According to police, a woman was injured when a small group of protesters stormed the building that houses the offices of the Conference of Rectors and Principals of Quebec Universities. Police said the woman, who works in the building, was injured in an altercation with protesters. CREPUQ had called for a tuition increase very similar to the one planed by the Quebec government.

It’s not clear why police chose to shut down the protest when they did. There were some small scuffles outside the doors of the office building, where police used pepper spray. But any violent incidents were pretty isolated and things seemed calm in the minutes before the riot squad showed up.

I’ve covered a lot of protests and I’ve never seen the police shut down an almost entirely peaceful protest the way they did yesterday. It all went down very quickly and their tactics seemed to be designed to intimidate and create panic. Police were firing stun grenades less than 10 minutes after the riot squad showed up. It was a pretty scary place to be. The Link’s Riley Sparks took a video that really shows how crazy the whole situation was.

Today, Quebec-based television network, TVA was asking questions about police conduct at the protest, after they obtained a video of riot cops knocking down a middle-aged woman.

Clearly, there are a lot of students who are angry about the tuition hikes and the fact that the protest was shut down by riot police isn’t going to help the situation any. The other key takeaway is that yesterday’s protest was very francophone and that all the student associations that endorsed the corresponding one-day strike are at French-language schools.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.