Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Downtown Montreal the Scene of Tense Clashes between Police and Protesters

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Downtown Montreal the Scene of Tense Clashes between Police and Protesters

Article excerpt

Cops and anti-capitalist protesters clash in downtown Montreal


MONTREAL - Downtown Montreal was plunged into familiar chaos for a few hours on Friday night as several hundred protesters, many wearing masks, clashed with police who fired off tear gas to try to disperse them.

Many of the demonstrators said they were bent on destroying capitalism as they engaged in cat-and-mouse tactics with police on May Day, breaking up when forced to and then gathering again in small groups for renewed confrontation.

An official with the city's ambulance service said five people were treated -- two police officers and three other people.

"Two people were overcome by tear gas, while another was in shock," said Bob Lamle.

"Two of these people may have taken part in the protest, while the third was a bystander."

Police spokesman Laurent Gingras said one officer who suffered facial cuts was taken to hospital with injuries that were not considered life-threatening.

The situation had calmed down a few hours after the protest began at 7 p.m. It took police just a few minutes after it started to declare the march illegal because organizers did not give the route beforehand.

At 11:15 p.m., authorities reported that 17 people had been arrested for illegal gathering, while another 10 faced other charges, including mischief, assaulting a police officer or trying to disarm an officer.

Another 57 people, including two minors, were detained for violating municipal bylaws.

One protester was seen smashing the windows of a cruiser with his fists, while Gingras said several cars belonging to police and civilians were vandalized.

The annual protest in Montreal on May 1 coincides with International Workers Day and usually results in clashes between police and demonstrators.

This year was no exception as protesters took over Sainte-Catherine Street, one of the city's busiest thoroughfares, marching in both directions and blocking traffic for many unsuspecting motorists.

Officers on horses could be seen trying to disperse protesters, some of whom carried placards with the slogan No to the Privatization of Quebec.

Many pedestrians, tourists and people sitting on patios were affected by the tear gas.

"With the wind, customers had to rush inside because of the gas," said Gabrielle Prevost, manager of the busy Benelux pub on Sherbrooke Street.

"We had a lot of people outside and the patio emptied pretty quickly. Many were overcome, especially the servers."

Much of the action took place just a few blocks from the Bell Centre, where more than 20,000 fans peacefully streamed out at about 11 p.m. after seeing the Canadiens lose 2-1 in overtime against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 1 of their second-round playoff series.

Earlier, a spokesman for Montreal's Anti-Capitalist Convergence said in a statement that "it's capitalism we must destroy. …

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