One arrested in peaceful student demonstrations
Published Thursday, March 8, 2012 4:09PM EST
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 7:41AM EDT
MONTREAL - About 800 students opposed to tuition hikes pounded the pavement again Thursday afternoon.
The day's demonstrations began at 3 p.m. Thursday at Place Emilie Gamelin, while another group of students hooked their cause up with the International Women's Day march which launched at 6 p.m. from the corner of Guy and de Maisonneuve Blvd.
The first march was well-attended and orderly, taking place under a record warm climes of 13 C. The marchers dealt with an occasional light drizzle, which intensified at around 6 p.m., forcing the Women's Day speeches to be conducted in a downpour.
One person was arrested for threatening a police officer.
There was also an incident in which someone broke the window of a pharmacy on Ste. Catherine E. in the earlier demonstration but it did not lead to an arrest, according to Montreal police.
The protest was otherwise low-key and without incident, taking place amid a heavy police presence and a whirling helicopter watching the proceedings from overhead.
The demonstrators placed roses on the steps of the Montreal office of Quebec's Education Minister as a symbol of peace following a Wednesday of protests which saw seven arrests and one serious injury.
The demonstrators declined to reveal their route to police in advance and traffic was disrupted by the protest.
Student strike leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois said that the students had no intention of changing their methods following a night of protests marked by violent clashes. He said that police must be scrutinized when it comes to violence.
"The best way to ensure that it does not degenerate into violence as it did yesterday (Wednesday) is for police to have a little more understanding," he said.
"All was going well before the police came yesterday," he said. "It's really their presence that raises the students' blood pressure. So we ask them to be discreet, respectful of our events, and if they adopt such attitude, we believe all will be okay."
Another student leader said that police acted harshly on Wednesday and their behaviour should be investigated.
"It's unclear why the government is silent about the situation Wednesday where there was excessive use of violence by Montreal police. We do not understand the government's silence about it and ask Premier Charest to denounce the violence," said Martine Desjardins.
Reached in Gatineau, Premier Jean Charest pointed to the students.
"The students, unfortunately, refuse to work with police to ensure the safety of people protesting," he said.
"I call on the demonstrators to work with police to inform them, as is usually done, of the route and to respect the peace as well."
"Invading a building in the aim of scaring people has obvious consequences. We need student leaders also to act responsibly, the police are doing their job as best they can," he said.
The students planned yet another demonstration Friday in the aims of offering moral support for Francis Grenier, hurt in the eye in Wednesday's protest.
Wednesday's demonstration was peaceful as students marched from Victoria square to the Loto Quebec building on Sherbrooke St.
When several students moved into the lobby of the building and refused to move, police forced them outside.
Five people were arrested and several people suffered minor injuries in the ensuing melee.
However one protester and a police officer were hurt badly enough to need attention in hospital.
The student group CLASSE says Francis Grenier, a student at CEGEP St. Jerome was hit in the face with a stun grenade and may lose vision in his right eye.
Grenier is being treated at Rosemont hospital.
While the demonstration took place students at Concordia University voted in favour of joining the province-wide walkout.
With a file from The Canadian Press