Police Brutality March Ends in Two Arrests, ‘No Injuries’
23rd Annual Protest ‘No Justice, No Peace’
Pedestrians were urged to evacuate Sherbrooke St. as protesters smashed car windows, rolled dumpster fires down the street, and set off fireworks at the height of the 23rd annual anti-police brutality march.
Less than an hour into the march protesters were scattered in the streets of Montreal.
“Police brutality has happened within this year and last year with the death of Nicholas Gibbs, with countless assaults that have happened to young people and racialized people in the metros of Montreal. There’s still oversight, there’s still no plans to ‘fix the police,’” said Joe Hill, a member of the Collective Opposed to Police Brutality, who used an alias for safety concerns.
He added that he believes a strong community can maintain themselves and that the current police system is doing more harm than good.
About 100 protesters gathered at Place Norman Bethune outside of Concordia university before the march began. At around 7:15 p.m., protesters marched down Guy St. before making their way onto Sherbrooke St. Less than five minutes into the march, a protester began battering cars with a wooden stick.
Protesters continued to bang on parked cars, and a scooter was used to shatter the windows of a black Audi.
At around 7:30 p.m., a cameraman from Global News was seen retaliating against protesters after being kicked in the leg. The cameraman, Sylvain Trudeau, was filming the protest and was allegedly being shouted at before refusing to back away. After being kicked in the leg, Trudeau shouted back at them.
A young woman pushed his camera away before Trudeau threw her to the ground.
Once the crowd reached Sherbrooke St. again, they dispersed, running up Peel St. and De La Montagne St. where they blended into people walking downtown, splitting from the initial protest.
Once split up, it was unclear where protesters re-grouped, causing police to retrace their steps, spreading out over the few blocks where protesters marched.
At around 7:40 p.m. a group of more than 10 bike cops cornered one protester on Maisonneuve Blvd. and Crescent St. While two officers apprehended her, others yelled at protesters and pedestrians to back up. Another protester was arrested across the street.
One pedestrian, Matthew Feigin, who was out celebrating St-Patrick’s day weekend, claimed to have been hit in the head with a police baton “for no reason.”
“They came right after me and hit me in the head for no reason, zero,” Feigin said. “I’ve never seen a team of cops come at me for walking down the street in my own city.”
According to the police’s preliminary report, two arrests were made—one for mischief and another for uttering threats, though they reported many other counts of mischief. They reported no injuries.
Riot police showed up outside of Concordia’s Hall building as the protest died down. Batting their shields, they stormed towards pedestrians and protesters, pushing one man to the ground while Concordia’s shuttle bus was driving through.
In front of Concordia, buses filled with police with guns, students are in the shuttle in front of them. pic.twitter.com/nRTVzvs82X— Erika Morris (@thingjpg) March 15, 2019
Police blocked-off the entry of Guy-Concordia metro between Guy St. and Maisonneuve Blvd. They used their bikes to form a barricade around the doors, preventing pedestrians to enter the metro. A second barricade was settled down Guy St. in the corner of St. Catherine St., at Concordia’s EV Building. Riot police blocked the sidewalk upwards to the metro as well.
“The risk of violent police action is always there no matter what the cause is,” said Tessa Mascia, one of the organizers for the march. “This all a very toxic system and its reflected through [cops].”
“Are we safe? Of course not,” she continued.
This year, organizers said the demonstration was all about “no justice, no peace,” and about sending a strong anti-colonial message.
“It’s this kind of broad call to action against not only police but border agents, security guards,” said Hill.
“All those who enforce the authoritarian program we have in place on this colonized continent in order to heal that trauma of colonialism and hopefully move on to a better future where we are not afraid of getting our faces beat in,” continued Hill.
With files from Jonathan Caragay-Cook and Caitlin Yardley.