Police Disperse Anti-Police Brutality March in Downtown Montreal
Reports of Protesters Being Kettled, Police Say No Arrests or Injuries
The 21st annual anti-police brutality protest held earlier tonight saw tense moments between protesters, police, and even journalists, but ended with no arrests.
Despite heavy snowfall on Tuesday night that shut down many schools and businesses, close to 200 protesters gathered at Place Valois deep in Hochelaga.
Around 7 p.m., protesters began marching westward on Ontario St., trudging through slushy streets. As the march headed downtown, protesters shot off fireworks, threw rocks, and smashed a police car parked outside McGill Metro.
Shortly after 8 p.m., police in riot gear and on bicycles surrounded protesters, trapping them at Place des Arts between St. Urbain St. and Jeanne-Mance St.
During the commotion, a group of police in riot gear circled and kettled protesters in a parking lot behind the SPVM headquarters on St. Urbain St., according to Ludovick Krakoski, who said he was in the kettle.
The officers began pushing them against a wall, but let them go without issuing any tickets or charges, Krakoski said.
According to a spokesperson from the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal, the officers on-duty originally intervened because fireworks had been shot towards police on horses and windows had been smashed. The spokesperson could not confirm whether protesters had been kettled.
Police officers could also be seen taking backpacks from protesters. The spokesperson for the SPVM said these backpacks may be used as evidence.
At one point before the crowd’s dispersion, protesters attacked journalists who were taking photos of firecrackers being shot off. Protesters shouted obscenities and threw snowballs towards the media for a few minutes as the march continued downtown on De Maisonneuve Blvd.
“Let us remember that the cops protect the bourgeois businesses while the community centres decay.” —a member of the Collectif opposé à la brutalité policière
Police and Gentrification
The anti-police brutality march, which is held every year on March 15, returned to its usual scenes of police clashing with protesters.
Last year, the march ended without any police intervention in front of the Atwater Metro downtown.
This year, the protest took on the theme of gentrification. Hochelaga, where the protest began, is an area currently struggling with the effects of an influx of high-end businesses and high-earning households.
Before the protest started at Place Valois, members of the Collectif opposé à la brutalité policière gave speeches, calling police brutality and gentrification “two sides of the same coin.”
“Let us remember that condos are growing like weeds,” said one member from the COBP. “[…] Let us remember that the cops protect the bourgeois businesses while the community centres decay.”
He continued that Ontario St., where the protesters marched through, is constantly patrolled by police. Officers harass community members like the homeless and sex workers repeatedly, he added.
“They’re harassing people that already suffer enough,” the COBP member said.
With files from Jérémie Gauthier-Caron