Round Two Against Austerity
Smaller Nighttime Anti-Austerity March Ends with One Arrest
Anti-austerity protests resumed Friday night at Place Émilie-Gamelin, where hundreds gathered to denounce austerity. One person was arrested at the end of the march through downtown Montreal.
Although light in comparison to the march that drew thousands to McGill earlier that day, Friday night’s crowd grew slowly, and by 9:30 p.m. hundreds of protesters were marching up Berri St.
Julien Grenon, one of the many young protesters present, said he wanted to denounce the attacks to services that make Quebec a social state, although he couldn’t make it to the earlier demonstration.
“I’m part of the middle class; I don’t necessarily need the services,” said Grenon, a student at Cégep de Jonquière. “But even if I don’t use services other than the hospital, I want us to keep them, because you don’t know what can happen.”
The leaders in the front of the march held a banner which read “Résistance Tabarnak,” or “Resist, for fuck’s sake.” They led their followers through multiple streets, including St. Laurent Blvd., St. Denis St. and up and down Berri St.
The police anticipated the protest’s movements and diverted traffic early on many streets, creating empty lanes to march through. At points, though, protesters attempted to disrupt police order.
The heaviest traffic was on Ste. Catherine St. East as an impromptu direction change saw marchers weave through stopped vehicles. Police in riot gear intervened at an intersection with René-Lévesque Blvd. East.
As the crowd lost its momentum and most of its numbers, police began controlling the path of marchers. They were led along René-Lévesque Blvd. and St. Denis St.
A man was pushed to the ground by three police officers in riot gear after fighting back as remaining protesters were forced onto sidewalks and dispersed by themselves.
There was a minor arrest and the protest was otherwise peaceful, says police spokesperson Ian Lafrenière, who didn’t have more information on whether the man was charged or released.
A vigil was held in Place Émilie-Gamelin hours before the protest, in memory of an activist and citizen journalist.
Martin Tremblay, who was active in Montreal’s summer protests in 2012, committed suicide in his home on Oct. 23.
David-Maxime Samson, a photojournalist present at the vigil, said Tremblay’s suicide highlighted “the suffering of an activist.”
“Often an activist, after a big protest is very depressed,” Samson said. “It’s a mix of anger and frustration and a sense of wrong towards society.
“Martin felt it more strongly, and used his medication to commit suicide.”
Tremblay had been seropositive for a degenerative disease for 26 years, said Martin Sauvageau from La Brigade des Anges de Montréal, who organized the vigil. Sauvageau did not feel comfortable detailing Tremblay’s medical history.
Some of the people there held candles, despite the strong wind. Sandra Cordero participated in the vigil as well as both protests Friday.
“If there are more, if I have to move around, then I’ll do it again,” she said.
Cordero works with elderly people as a home-care worker through L’Agence, an agency that coordinates with Quebec clinics. She says she often meets people that have difficulty with social services like unemployment and welfare, many of whom can’t afford current food prices.
“This week, someone told me that for their birthday they bought a can of maple syrup,” Cordero said. “That’s not normal as a gift.”