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article imageMontreal police arrest more than 250 people at annual protest

By Ken Hanly     Mar 16, 2013 in World
Montreal - The Montreal protest against police brutality has become an annual event. The 17th annual protest ended up with more than 250 people arrested to be taken away on city buses and police vehicles.
There are new strict regulations governing protests in Quebec but many protest events fail to follow them and are hence illegal. This demonstration was illegal as the organizers failed to provide police with an itinerary. Many people were arrested under municipal bylaw P-6 which makes it illegal to cover ones face while taking part in a protest.
At least 150 people were fined $637 dollars for taking part in an illegal protests. Throughout the march police rounded up several groups and made mass arrests. The mass protest dispersed into smaller groups after police orders to do so as they declared the protest illegal.
The police had been well prepared for the event which quite often results in violence. Montreal Police officer Commander Ian Lafreniere said: “We’re hoping for the best, but we’re getting ready for the worst.” The demonstrations are designed to support the International Day Against Police Brutality. Last year there were 226 arrests.
Laftreniere said that recent demonstrations have fewer activists but more troublemakers:“It looks like a sport now. Some people are coming to different protests because they want to have a good time." Police warned the public about the demonstration before it took place.
Once the protest started on Friday, the police were quite aggressive in breaking it up. They deployed groups of helmeted officers, some on horseback, and used pepper stray as they corralled demonstrators. The officers massed around the downtown police headquarters, the target of the demonstration.
Once the march was declared illegal, police scooped up protesters from the mob and arrested them and tightened their cordon on the crowd. They used wedge formations to split off small groups and steer them away into side streets. They stopped people and rooted through their bags and backpacks.
Dominique Cyr a university student said:
"We didn't see a lot of things. But in the beginning the police were very aggressive." Cynthia St-Germain his friend said that she saw demonstrators being roughly arrested and maintained that there were as many police as demonstrators. Both had come to the rally because of their experiences during last year's student protests known as Quebec's Maple Spring. Cyr said:"During the Maple Spring, I saw a lot of students beaten by the police. I saw police hit the students with their motorcycles, a lot of things like that. It's horrible. It's a criminal act that the police are doing on the people and they must pay for their crimes."
Police swept down sidewalks often pursuing people who had nothing to do with the protests. The Montreal police had help from the Quebec provincial police and the Laval police. Observers from the Toronto police, London regional police, and others were apparently on hand to see how such events are handled.
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