Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Student Protesters Target Quebec Liberals as Provincial Election Kicks Off

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Student Protesters Target Quebec Liberals as Provincial Election Kicks Off

Article excerpt

Student protesters target Quebec Liberals

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MONTREAL - A disorderly scene erupted in downtown Montreal at the start of Quebec's election campaign as a night protest saw injuries, multiple arrests and clashes with police.

The tense atmosphere during this spring's student unrest was rekindled Wednesday as Premier Jean Charest called an election and cast the tuition hike dispute as a central theme.

After several quiet weeks, thousands were once again marching and banging pots and pans in the streets in opposition to the government.

Later in the evening, a small crowd overturned dumpsters to block a downtown street and some people tossed projectiles like bottles and Roman candles at riot police.

A car reportedly slammed into one protester amid a crowd marching in the street. The victim suffered injuries not deemed life-threatening. Police said they had a description of a vehicle's licence plate and model and were investigating a possible hit-and-run.

Another man, wearing a dress shirt and pants, who did not appear to be a protester, was bleeding from his face as he held up a blood-soaked handkerchief.

"Here's your damned red square,'' he shouted, referring to the symbol of the protest movement. He was escorted, limping, away from the crowd.

Police said as the demonstration ended that 15 people had been arrested and two windows had been broken. One police car was also damaged.

Some protesters were dressed in black and were wearing face masks -- a common sight this spring during demonstrations that made international news.

The scene was a far cry from the more peaceful, festive atmosphere as the evening demonstration began.

Thousands marched to send a message to Charest that the pots-and-pans-banging public is coming after his Quebec Liberals.

One had a large sign blinking the number 100 to mark the 100th nightly protest, although the gatherings have been much smaller in recent weeks.

Some marched past Charest's office in Montreal. Others jeered at the premier as he left a Liberal campaign event in Quebec City.

The pots and pans were a common sight in the spring as protest percussionists used them every night to contest the government's tuition hikes and controversial demonstration law, Bill 78. …

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