A family demonstration of approximately 100 protesters marched through downtown Montreal on Sunday, despite Parti Québécois (PQ) leader Pauline Marois’ promise to repeal the proposed tuition hike. After staging a sit-in on the corner of Ste. Catherine and Union, two demonstrators were arrested for “mischief on a car” and a “death threat,” according to the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM).
Sources on Twitter said that a third arrest was made, but that the protester was released.
The demonstration began at Parc Laurier at 1 p.m. and was declared illegal from the outset, according to the SPVM. The march eventually met another contingency of protesters at Parc Émilie-Gamelin around 2 p.m.
At the front of the procession, holding a banner, was newly formed group Amnistie Générale, followed by several other community and neighbourhood groups such as the Mile End Assemblée Populaire Autonome du Cartier and Mères en colère et solidaires.
McGill Philosophy Professor Alia Al-Saji was in attendance with her Mile End neighbourhood assembly.
While the demonstration’s Facebook event claimed a partly celebratory nature due to the repealed hike, Al-Saji said she felt that “part of the point is that a lot of what the students and the popular mobilization have been fighting is more than the hike. It’s about wider austerity measures and wider privatization of social services. It is also about a kind of form of democracy and a way of being heard….this manif is to say that democracy isn’t just about staying quiet, and voting, but it’s actually about having your voice heard and organizing at the local level.”
As the march worked its way westward on Ste. Catherine, the SPVM announced over a loudspeaker that the demonstration was illegal and that protesters needed to leave. Upon hearing the announcement, Amnistie Générale immediately disbanded.
Following the announcement, at approximately 2:45 p.m., about 15 other protesters staged a sit-in.
One of the leaders of Amnistie Générale, a student at Cégep Marie-Victorin who wished to remain anonymous, told The Daily that her organization was there to “do some manifestations for the general amnesty of everyone.”
The CEGEP student did not partake in the sit-in because they had “already been arrested four times.”
The sit-in continued until 3:30 p.m., when a squad of SPVM officers arrived to break it up. Moments after their arrival, police officers on bikes chased after one protester who was eventually arrested on University and charged with “mischief on a car.”