News | Havoc at anti-Trump protests

Police release pepper spray into the crowd

On Friday January 20, approximately 150 people gathered at the corner of Union and St. Catherine, in Square Phillips, to attend an anti-fascist demonstration. The demonstration was one of many that day to protest the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump.
The demonstration began with speeches from several speakers.

“I speak today as a Montrealer of North-African origins, as an immigrant who grew up here, but above all as a person who support the Indigenous people of this land, on unceded Kanien’kehá:ka lands,” said Anas Bouslikhane, one of the event’s speakers, to the crowd in French.

“If [the far-right] wants to build a wall which would block Mexican immigrants, as well as instate immigration policies that target North African Arabs and Muslims, we come here to question the legitimacy of closing those borders,” continued Bouslikhane. “Borders of a country that is closing in on itself and its bigoted ideologies.”

“We must today more than ever act in solidarity across borders, and categorially refuse, [Trump’s] racist, misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic, and nationalistic agenda,” he concluded.

Present in the square were a number of anarchist, marxist, and other anti-capitalist groups. Large signs were displayed, many with “Make Racists Afraid Again,” written on them.

“[Trump] and his cabinet have come to power on an explicitly racist, sexist, transphobic, homophobic, Islamophobic, and anti-immigrant platform,” stated Eamon Toohey, another event speaker, “and […] their victory has rung out far beyond the U.S.-Canada and the U.S.-Mexico border.”

“If [the far-right] wants to build a wall which would block Mexican immigrants, as well as instate immigration policies that target North African Arabs and Muslims, we come here to question the legitimacy of closing those borders.”

“As we speak, allies in Washington are disrupting the inauguration of Trump to fight for a world free from oppression, free from fascism,” Toohey continued. “Standing together here, as an expression of solidarity with our American allies, and against the far-right in Quebec and Canada, against Kellie Leitch, against Kevin O’Leary, against PEGIDA [Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West], against all those that threaten the well-being of the oppressed.”

“We can’t allow Canada’s extractionary industrial policy or the congratulatory tone Trudeau has taken with the American far-right to stand,” Toohey concluded. “If we do, we put ourselves down the same path of fascism on which America is already embarking.

Marching down Ste. Catherine

After speeches by demonstration leaders, protesters walked west down Ste. Catherine, chanting: “1,2,3,4, this is fucking class war! 5,6,7,8, organize and smash the state!”

“As we speak, allies in Washington are disrupting the inauguration of Trump to fight for a world free from oppression, free from fascism. Standing together here, as an expression of solidarity with our American allies, and against the far-right in Quebec and Canada, against Kellie Leitch, against Kevin O’Leary, against PEGIDA [Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West], against all those that threaten the well-being of the oppressed.”

“As a trans, non-binary, queer person, if I didn’t join into the revolution, if I didn’t join into the history being made around me, in the place that I live, the place that I call home, and the place that I wouldn’t be able to call home if it wasn’t for the awful colonial past that is on this land, then I would just be contributing to more and more oppression by my silence,” said Asher, one of the marchers, to The Daily.

“Our responsibility [by marching in Montreal] is showing solidarity with those who are directly affected,” Asher continued. “I feel like it’s not just showing [those in the U.S.] one march. It’s not just one march, one movement in [Washington D.C.]. It’s movements all around the world, and we support what they’re doing. We support their opposition, we support their strength and their courage.”

Some protesters shouted at Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) officers, with many bystanders on Ste. Catherine staring in either disbelief or shock. Some bystanders gathered inside businesses, either out of fear of marchers, or because private security guards had advised or forced people to stay inside.

At the corner of de la Montagne and Ste. Catherine, one protester tagged “Fuck capitalism” on a department store window.

“Our responsibility [by marching in Montreal] is showing solidarity with those who are directly affected.”

A few protesters banged or threw objects at the windows of large department and retail store chain locations, attempting to break them. At least one protester succeeded, putting a large hole in and shattering an American Apparel window.

Encounters with the SPVM

Near the corner of St. Bishop and Ste. Catherine, officers had gathered outside their SPVM station, Poste de quartier 20.

Police stood with their bikes to ostensibly prevent protesters from damaging the station, some standing in riot gear. The majority of protesters walked by the station without incident.
However, after a number of projectiles thrown by protesters partly shattered the SPVM station’s window, officers charged the protesters, releasing pepper spray into the crowd.

In the street, St. Matthieu Street

While initially a portion of the march’s route had been clear, eventually protesters began to walk down Ste. Catherine alongside cars and buses, eliciting some annoyed honks from drivers.

“As a trans, non-binary, queer person, if I didn’t join into the revolution, if I didn’t join into the history being made around me, in the place that I live, the place that I call home, and the place that I wouldn’t be able to call home if it wasn’t for the awful colonial past that is on this land, then I would just be contributing to more and more oppression by my silence.”

Around 7:00 p.m., protesters reached St. Matthieu. One SPVM van was hit by a protester, the driver subsequently driving down Ste. Catherine to get out of the way.

At that exact moment, riot police walking behind the march began to bang on their shields, chasing protestors and forcing them up St. Matthieu. Demonstrators running up the street quickly dispersed, with other officers following in pursuit on foot.

That same riot line then came down St. Matthieu, preventing press or bystanders to walk up the street. Many, out of fear of arrest, whether they were demonstrators or not, hid in businesses at the intersection.

Soon after, two large vans pulled up to the intersection, vans intended to transport ‘kettled’ protesters, i.e. protesters who had been rounded up and arrested. Over the loudspeaker, police informed those standing on the sidewalks that “this protest is over,” ordering them to leave. It is unclear how many people were arrested and how many were hurt in clashes with the SPVM.


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