Chaos Reigns During Anti-Austerity Demo

Follow Up to Tuesday’s Violent Demo Sees 81 People Fined, 1 Arrest

An anti-austerity demonstration of thousands turned into chaotic scenes after police used flash grenades, pepper spray and other scare tactics for dispersal Friday night.

As of 11:30 p.m., one person was arrested and 81 people were caught in a kettle on Peel St., waiting to be ticketed under the controversial bylaw P-6, according to the police. The arrest was for assault against an officer.

There was another kettle of approximately 20 individuals, including, at one point, three editors from The Link, on Maisonneuve Blvd. and Rue de Bleury.

Bylaw P-6 declares protests illegal if an advanced itinerary is not given and facial masks are used.

The police also reported that one demonstrator and one passerby were injured.

Multiple times throughout the night, the demonstrators attempted to march through a busy Ste. Catherine St., only to be blockaded by police in riot gear.

The first incident occurred at Ste. Catherine St. and Union Ave. when protesters holding a large red banner charged police with bicycles. They responded with excessive use of pepper spray.

Police officers pepper sprayed two editors from The Link, Shaun Michaud and Mattha Busby at this point. Michaud had to pour milk into his eyes as a remedy.

Police later on in the demo pushed a contributor and former editor, Alex Bailey, onto the sidewalk. She brought herself to the hospital.

The second major incident happened at Ste. Catherine St. and Peel St., when police surprised and charged the demo, resulting in people sprinting away. Two flash grenades were thrown at this point.

From here, a large contingent ran from the police to Square Dorchester, where mayhem ensued, as a lack of lighting caused panic. More flash grenades were thrown.

After the use of flash grenades, the protest largely scattered into different, smaller factions. On Peel St., several riot police were seen entering a Pizzeria Depanneur. Demonstrators surrounded the store but were chased away.

The demo began at Berri Square and alternated between the main downtown streets. The chaotic scenes come a day after footage emerged of a demonstrator being shot point-blank in the face by a tear gas launcher at an anti-austerity protest in Quebec City yesterday.

Police in riot gear. Photo Shaun Michaud

Laurence Corbeil, a CEGEP student from LaSalle, said she attended that demo and stood right behind the injured woman. She explained that the police unnecessarily intervened and acted out of “fear.”

Holding a purple sign that read, “Non au saccage de nos acquis, Feminisme du combat,” Corbeil said that feminism is important for the movement as women are heavily affected by austerity.

Richard Beaulieu, someone who recently had a P-6 fine dropped by the municipal court, said that the protest tonight would only become violent based on the actions of the police and their enactment of the bylaw.

“What is the risk of a flag or a mask?” he said about the law’s stipulation. “The authorities are risking violence over something petty.”