CEGEP protest leads to 37 arrests, more students to join strike
MONTREAL - The 37 students arrested at CEGEP du Vieux Montreal in a protest that began late Thursday evening at the school were released by police just after 5 p.m. Friday on the condition that they not approach within 300 metres of the cegep.
They include 29 adults and eight minors. The adults will be charged and will be charged in court March 29.
They were taken in by police after protesters erected barricades, with desks, and occupied their school.
The students were protesting tuition-fee hikes planned by Premier Jean Charest's government. Four other people had been arrested at a protest on Thursday.
Police issued an ultimatum shortly after midnight, telling the students to get out or face the consequences.
There had been about 100 people occupying the building.Montreal police spokesman Daniel Lacoursiere.says students were aggressive toward police and may have also vandalized the school.
The provincial government reacted with an expression of both patience and displeasure.
"When it comes to the question of tuition fees, historically it always triggers a reaction from students, she says. We knew there would be demonstrations; we know there will be more," said Education Minister Line Beauchamp.
"We have the right to protest but we have to respect people's belongings and their security."
Of the 37 people subsequently arrested, four were minors. They will be charged with such offenses as, mischief, armed assault and breaking and entering.
One student leader said that there are 10,000 students currently on strike but that total will double next week in the aims of stopping legislation that's expected to be tabled in March.
The leader disassociated her group from the rowdy behaviour.
"We're moving forward to reach agreement between management and students. Ideally, these are things that should not happen," said Stephanie Tougas, Secretary General of the Federation of Student Associations campus of the University of Montreal (FAéCUM).The CEGEP posted a notice on its website saying the school is closed until further notice and no one is allowed inside.
Quebec has by far the lowest university tuition in the country and Quebec's Liberal government wants to nearly double it over five years.
with files from The Canadian Press