In what looked like a scene from last spring, student protesters took to downtown streets Monday evening, facing swarms of riot police.

On day one of a two-day summit on higher education, about 1,000 protesters moved through Montreal streets to protest tuition fees, which the Parti Quebecois government announced Monday would be fixed at three percent hikes, or about $70/year.

The protesting students said they hope they can embarrass the government into rescinding these hikes, which are much less than the $254 per year for seven years proposed by the previous government.

Some protesters clashed with police, hurling paint-laced ping pong balls and snowballs at officers.

Police responded by charging protesters, using pepper spray on the crowd and firing at least one stun grenade, as a police helicopter hovered overhead. Police said two people were arrested for armed assault.

The protest began around 4:30 p.m. when several hundred people gathered at Cabot Square. Demonstrators were flanked by riot police as they marched down Atwater Ave., as Montreal police declared the assembly illegal.

Protesters -- students and their supporters, as well as anarchist groups --  soon arrived outside the summit at Arsenal on William St. in Griffintown, where the building was guarded by both Surete du Quebec and Montreal police officers.

“I feel it’s important to take a stand and show the current government that their tactics of trying to win us to their side during the last election have not gone unnoticed for what they really are. It’s a matter of deception. We’re here fighting, saying that there are other means to fund education besides raising tuition in a province that is so financially mismanaged. We’re here to fight for the gains that we won last spring,” said urban planning student Serge Del Grosso.

The group marched from the site through downtown streets. Most dispersed near Parc Emelie-Gamelin -- the starting point for protests last spring -- shortly before 7 p.m., though a handful continued to march east along Ste. Catherine St.

Earlier in the day, two protests with about 20 people each took place.

ASSE has been calling for another protest to begin at 2 p.m. at Victoria Square on Tuesday.