Riot ends with 85 arrests
Published Thursday, April 26, 2012 7:33AM EDT
MONTREAL - The riot that ripped up downtown Montreal Wednesday night ended with 85 arrests, including three minors.
It began, as has been the case many times in the past few months with a protest against tuition hikes.
Angry at the exclusion of CLASSE from the minister's negotiations only hours earlier, over 5,000 took in the streets to show support for the province's more militant student federation.
With a "truce" declared between the student federations and the Quebec government, Education Minister Line Beauchamp expelled CLASSE after an uproarious protest on Tuesday saw five arrests, an injured police officer and the window of a bank smashed.
"We can no longer play with words, no longer play with ambiguity," said Beauchamp, claiming that CLASSE was demonstrating contempt for good faith discussions.
There were more disruptions Wednesday morning, with a pair of smoke bombs tossed in the Montreal subway system, while there were several protests in the city.
Citing Tuesday's injury-inducing protest "I have decided that CLASSE has excluded itself from these negotiations," said Beauchamp.
"Other provocative protests have been promoted on CLASSE's website," said the minister.
The two other student groups, the Federation d'etudiante collegiale du Quebec (FECQ) and the Federation etudiante universitaire du Quebec (FEUQ) refused to continue talks if CLASSE was excluded.
"We do not think the minister has a justifiable reason to suspend CLASSE," said Leo Bureau-Blouin.
The spokesman for CLASSE, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, suggested that CLASSE, which operates as a direct democracy, had very little control over what appeared on its websites.
the minister's actions had "extended the strike by quite a bit and poured fuel on the fire."
He accused Beauchamp of sabotage, saying she never really wanted to negotiate in good faith.
While the students gathering at Place Emilie-Gamelin, near Berri-UQAM metro, were mostly peaceful at the start of Wednesday night, the protest slowly began to unravel as the crowd marched west, heading toward Premier Jean Charest's office.
Organized by the association representing UQAM's political science and law students, the march began 45 minutes late, at 9:15 p.m. The students did not provide a route to the Montreal police before the protest-something not unusual over the past 11 weeks of protests.
The first hour of the protest was relatively peaceful, with students chanting against Beauchamp and Charest.
Soon after some protesters targeted photojournalists with paint balls.
Bank windows began to shatter an hour into the protest as some protesters began to throw rocks, and the protest was declared illegal soon after 10 p.m.
However the violence and vandalism continued for at least another hour.
By the end Police Station 21 on Ste. Elisabeth had been attacked, a car at the corner of Stanley and Ste. Catherine Sts. was set aflame, and numerous storefronts and vehicles had been damaged.
Several journalists were hit by pepper spray during the protest, including one of CTV Montreal's cameramen. Police said three officers were injured.
Montreal police called on the Surete du Quebec for assistance, and calm returned to the streets around 1 a.m.
In all 85 people were arrested, including three minors. All but nine were released overnight, but those remaining in custody are expected to be charged.
Police are asking those who suffered property damage to file reports at their local police station, and for witnesses of crimes to call 514-393-1133.
CTV cameraman Marc Doucette was pepper sprayed