A night protest against the provincial government’s plan to implement an annual tuition increase of three per cent was shut down by the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) on Tuesday as officers strictly enforced by-law P-6, a municipal ordinance that requires protesters to provide an itinerary of the demonstration and prohibits the wearing of masks.
The crowd, numbering around 60 people, gathered at Place Émilie-Gamelin at 8 p.m. where police immediately prevented them from beginning a march down Ste. Catherine. Protesters did not divulge their itinerary beforehand.
SPVM mediation officers mingled with the crowd to explain the reasoning behind the police’s decision to stop the march. They noted that the day’s earlier snowstorm factored into concerns about safety.
“We’re stopping them here for their safety and because of the weather. It would be a safety risk if we allowed people to walk through the streets with all the plowing going around,” a mediation officer told The Daily.
“The police will always find an excuse to repress and to prohibit the right to demonstrate, so this is complete bullshit,” Pierro Desbois, a protester, told The Daily in French.
After being rebuffed by police several times, the crowd poured into a nearby subway station and continued the protest underground. Chants reverberated through the Berri-UQAM metro station as demonstrators made their way toward the nearest train
“I’m not sure if this is the first time we’re [demonstrating] in the subway, but this is my first time and it’s a great thing,” Desbois said. “We’re very respectful. We want the people of [Quebec] to understand we’re not against them. We’re on their side.”
Protesters then crowded onto an orange line train in the direction of Montmorency before disembarking at Mont-Royal station. From there, the demonstration continued west on Mont-Royal.
Dozens of police cars closed in on the protesters shortly thereafter.
The march turned south on St. Laurent toward riot police, who were lined up in anticipation of the protesters’ arrival. Soon after issuing muted warnings, another police formation descended on protesters from behind, trapping them in a kettle near the intersection of St. Laurent and Rachel.
Police investigator and SPVM Chief of Police Station 21 Alain Simoneau identified protesters within the kettle and made targeted arrests under by-law P-6. The other detainees were held for around two hours before being searched, arrested, and processed by the police.
A bus from the Société de transport de Montréal was later brought in to carry the 45 detainees to the police station.
Simoneau told The Daily that protesters would be released in “a few hours,” after being issued a fine for violating P-6.
This is the second time in a week that the police have enforced P-6 through mass arrests. Last week, police used the same tactic to arrest 250 protesters at a march against police brutality.