UQAM Students Occupy School and Street

Day-long Protest Ends—Yet Again—With Riot Cops

photo julian ward
photo julian ward

Students at L’Université du Québec à Montréal spent March 12 partying and peacefully occupying a campus building and the street outside after their administration locked down a number of other campus buildings.

“[The administration is] trying to paralyze us,” said Isabelle Monast, an UQAM student who helped organize and serve meals to all protesting students in the atrium of the DS building.

According to UQAM history student Louis-Charles Cloutier Blain, students had originally planned a “creativity night” wherein students would gather at the school overnight to make art and support the anti-tuition movement.

When the administration caught wind of the students’ idea, they closed the building that the demonstrators planned on using. They responded by breaking into the building, taking back their art supplies for the “creativity night” and moving the event to the DS building on Ste. Catherine and Sanguinet St.

The impromptu party included banner-making, street-painting, free food, dancing, live music and alcohol. Over 300 students partied until 11:00 p.m. when the UQAM building officially closed and the police moved in to break up the crowd.

“Today was a victory, because [before 11:00 p.m. we had already received] two eviction orders [from police] this afternoon and they did not expel us from the area—they tolerated our movement,” said Blain.

“The point is that we created something, we were passive, and we showed we just wanted to create [art],” he said.

Police officers, who had been on the scene for hours without altercations with students, announced that protesters would be allowed to stay in the streets, so long as students walked with the flow of traffic and didn’t break the law.

Immediately following this announcement, protesters began marching the wrong way down a one way street, prompting riot cops to move in.

One member of the Black Bloc—a group of protest hoppers who are notorious for causing trouble at demonstrations—smashed two windows of the La Presse newspaper’s building.

After an hour of being followed by riot cops through downtown Montreal, students and members of the Black Bloc broke off and the protest ended.