May Day Mayhem

Anti-Capitalism Day Protest Rocks Downtown

  • Photo Riley Sparks

  • Photo Riley Sparks

  • Photo Riley Sparks

  • Photo Riley Sparks

An anti-capitalist demonstration marking International Workers’ Day ended in an all too familiar way on May 1—with tear gas and over a hundred arrests.

Gathering near Berri-UQAM Metro in the early evening, the crowd swelled to about 2000. About half wore red squares, the symbol of the Quebec student movement.

However, the protest was organized by the Anti-Capitalist Convergence of Montreal, not by student organizations.

Several hundred of the protesters wore masks and were dressed in black. They congregated in a large group at the back of the crowd, setting off firecrackers and occasionally throwing rocks and smoke bombs at police.

After following the demonstration for about an hour as the crowd wandered west on Rene-Levesque Blvd., into downtown Montreal, police declared the protest illegal and intervened after black bloc protesters smashed windows at the BMO on University St. and Ste-Catherine St. W.

A line of riot police split the crowd, apparently trying to arrest the group of rock-throwing protesters. The police were forced to retreat under a hail of rocks and bottles. More heavily-armoured police chased the crowd north on University St., firing tear gas and flashbangs.

The protest continued east, and eventually returned to Emilie-Gamelin Square. A tense standoff with police came to a head as officers ran into the crowd to arrest one man. Dragging the arrestee as they retreated through the crowd, the officers sprayed CS gas and fired what appeared to be several rubber bullets at protesters.

Officers kettled a group of about 15 protesters next to the Grande Bibliotheque on Berri St. and Maisonneuve Blvd. Moments before, the police had told protesters to disperse. The group appeared to be doing so, but police chased them across a field north of the library and arrested those who could not escape.
Police used bicycles to club a crowd of journalists who had gathered to photograph the arrests.

According to the CBC, 34 were arrested for criminal offences including mischief and assault, and another 75 for bylaw infractions after police ordered the protest to disperse.

The protest wound down just after 8 p.m., but more protesters were already gathering in the square for a student demonstration at 8:30 p.m., the eighth in as many days.

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