Blocking the Hall
First Day of Exams Sees Violence
Anti-tuition hike protesters blocked the entrance to Concordia’s Hall Building on the morning of April 12, delaying the first day of scheduled exams and increasing tension between striking and non-striking students.
After about 45 minutes the picket was broken, followed by riot police dispersing the the group of approximately 75 protesters using CS gas and baton tactics.
There were arguments between protesters and students attempting to enter the building, and some students reportedly threw fruit and coffee at the protesters in attempt to break through the line.
“I don’t mind them doing this during the semester, but not when I have an exam in an hour and I have to study,” said Actuarial Mathematics student Tom Riskas. “We’ve already paid for the semester, by losing the semester what money are we saving?”
“Using force to block people is not peaceful.”
Protesters were a mix of Concordia students and Syndicat des étudiant-e-s employé-e-s de l’UQAM. The group moved from their 7:00 a.m. meeting point at Lucien-L’Allier Metro to the Hall Building, police following and advising them to move with the flow of traffic.
Police direction was ignored. Once the protesters reached the corner of de Maisonneuve Blvd. and Bishop St., they ran to the Hall Building. They linked arms and wrapped chains around several doors to prevent anyone from moving in or out from about 8:00 a.m. to 8:45 a.m.
After 30 minutes, students inside the building attempted to force their way out. A window was smashed and protesters swarmed an open door, shoving coming from both sides.
Soon after, riot police arrived and the picket was broken. Protesters quickly gathered at the corner of de Maisonneuve Blvd. and McKay St., but the riot police formed a line and pushed them back using CS gas and batons.
“There are a number of reasons for the action, but an important one is the way the administration has been inflexible regarding the strike, especially with the examination schedule,” said one student demonstrator who spoke with The Link on condition of anonymity.
“We telling them, ‘you’re not the ones with all the power here.’”
Exams scheduled at 9:00 a.m. were moved to 9:30 a.m. without losing the three hour allotted time.
— With files from Brian Lapuz
The Link originally reported police broke the picket line. The picket was in fact broken before police use of direct force. The Link regrets the error.