Anti-police brutality protest ends in violence
// Laurent Bastien Corbell and Erin Hudson

MONTREAL (CUP) – An anti-police brutality protest on Mar. 15 turned ugly when demonstrators and police clashed in the streets of downtown Montreal. Around 2,000 protesters turned out for the demonstration, gathering at the Berri-UQAM metro station at 5pm before marching through the downtown area.

Some demonstrators wore red squares around their right eye in solidarity with CEGEP student Francis Grenier, whose right eye was injured last week when he was reportedly hit with a flash grenade thrown by a police officer.

The anti-police brutality demonstration, organized by the Collectif Opposé a la Brutalité Policière (COBP), was marred by small groups of protestors who took part in acts of sporadic violence. Projectiles were hurled at store windows and police vehicles along St-Catherine St. after riot police stopped the march in front of McGill’s Strathcona Music building and demonstrators diverted to St-Catherine.

The violence was widely condemned by other demonstrators, however, who responded to most instances of vandalism by booing. After a masked man unsuccessfully tried to force open an ATM machine with a garbage can, he was surrounded by the crowd.

Shortly after 7pm, roughly 200 demonstrators, most them masked, flooded down the McTavish steps on to McGill’s lower campus. The crowd made its way past the Redpath Museum, while one demonstrator stood atop its steps and led a chant in French of, “Whose streets? Our streets!”

Police used pepper spray on demonstrators on at least two different occasions in the square to move the crowd away from police lines.

William Karshaw, a participant in the protest, witnessed a friend of his get detained: “We were just standing just like everyone else just watching. I guess he didn’t get a chance to get out of the way fast enough, and he was thrown to the ground and arrested,” Karshaw says. “We weren’t doing anything wrong … we were moving out of the way.”

Eventually, after about two hours of marching and clashing with police, the remaining protesters were rounded up and arrested by the police. Each demonstrator was accompanied by two officers to be frisked and have their bags searched before being loaded onto STM buses to go to a detention centre.

The officer said that there was no resistance from demonstrators. One demonstrator was lead out of the group to an ambulance by two officers. In total, the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal reported that over 150 people were arrested, and seven officers injured.

With files from Eric Andrew-Gee.

//Laurent Bastien Corbell and Erin Hudson, The McGill Daily (McGill University)

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