Demonstrators protesting against National Energy Board hearings concerning the reversal of Enbridge pipeline 9B clashed with police on October 10. Three activists were arrested for assault, and 29 were detained in violation of by-law P6, as they refused to provide their route map in advance.
National Energy Board hearings were held earlier that week on the proposed reversal of Enbridge pipeline 9B. Enbridge wants to reverse the flow of Line 9B to carry crude oil from the tar sands in Alberta to refineries in Montreal, potentially endangering municipalities and water sources along the line.
The clash began almost immediately after protesters started marching northbound from their assembly place at Square-Victoria. Despite a prior announcement from a police loudspeaker instructing the protesters to walk in the direction of traffic, a contingent of riot officers immediately appeared and funneled the group onto the sidewalk.
Soon, the protesters were blocked entirely by riot officers on the corner of de la Gauchetière and University, and were surrounded by police. Protesters were seen running in all directions attempting to take cover as the riot officers moved in.
While most demonstrators managed to escape, approximately one dozen individuals were kettled in a small alcove at the base of the Banque Nationale Tower where they remained for the duration of the protest.
“I thought it was unbelievable,” a protester who identified as Cecil told The Daily after her release from the kettle. “I was just sitting there, people were on the sidewalk and then, wham, they just arrived and pushed people into a corner.”
“I thought it was total repression for no reason,” she remarked. “First we were walking in the streets, then they pushed us on the sidewalk, and we stayed on the sidewalk, so I don’t understand why they [arrested us].”
“They just happened to be able to get us into this spot where we couldn’t get out,” said Freda Gutman, another protester who was kettled. “We just waited…”
After the kettling, the approximately 40 remaining protesters, mostly assembled on the lawn immediately south of the Banque National Tower, were slowly pushed south by a line of officers on bicycles before they eventually dispersed.
At approximately 5 p.m., officers began bringing protesters to a parked STM bus for processing where they were issued a fine and subsequently released.
Some protesters attributed the crackdown on the protest to political motives.
“Montreal has become a city that protects businessmen and politicians in a way that is just incredible,” said one protester, Guy Bourbonet, to The Daily in French, while observing the kettled group. He estimated that there were more police present than demonstrators.
“It’s fascism when people can’t protest,” Gutman remarked to The Daily. “Its a human right to be able to do that.”
“These people here didn’t do anything,” said one protester, Michèle Languois, to The Daily, about the protesters. “[The police] are always predicting some kind of violent action.”
The National Energy Board hearings are slated to wrap up in Montreal on Friday before moving to Toronto next week.