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Saturday, April 06, 2013

Montreal police kettle protesters, fine hundreds

Protesters confront police on in Place Emilie Gamelin in Montréal Quebec, during a protest against the municipal bylaw requiring protesters to...more

MONTREAL - As many as 300 protesters were corralled by Montreal police Friday evening in central Montreal and fined $637 for participating in an illegal assembly.
The detention of protesters and the handing out of fines came as no surprise to most participants.
The protest had been organized by the Anti-Capitalist Convergence, also known as the CLAC, in a bid to “take back the streets” and contest a controversial bylaw.
“Isn’t this why we are here,” one protester was heard to say as police moved in on the protesters, kettling them in a circle on de Maisonneuve Blvd. between St. Hubert and Berri Sts.
No one was injured in the exercise although one police officer twisted his ankle, Montreal police spokesman Sgt. Laurent Gingras said.
All told, 279 people were fined for participating in an illegal assembly and three people were charged with assaulting a peace officer, police said.
In a statement issued before the protest, CLAC said it sought to “assert our opposition to bylaw P-6” in a year “marked by an escalation of police repression against political protesters in Montreal.”
The bylaw requires groups to provide police with an itinerary before they set out on a march. If that isn’t done, police can declare the gathering illegal. P-6 also prohibits the wearing of masks.
A few hundred people had gathered at Place Emilie-Gamelin, at the intersection of Ste. Catherine and Berri Sts., by 6 p.m. Friday.
In short order, a Montreal police officer announced, via loudspeakers, that the gathering was illegal as it violated bylaw P-6. A route had not been filed by protesters with police.
Around 6:30 p.m., the protesters took to the streets, circling the public square several times before police moved in.
Synchronizing their moves, several lines of riot-equipped officers converged, encircling most of the protesters.
One young woman outside of the circle was detained, her hands held behind her back by plastic manacles.
City busses were brought to the scene. Protesters who had identification were processed first.
If the protester had no outstanding warrants or was not violating court orders, he or she was released, Gingras said.
Bylaw P-6 — which carries a fine of $637, taxes included, for the first offence — was in place last year but was not normally a factor in the protests, as police enforced it selectively.
“We refuse to negotiate with the police our freedom of expression, our right to demonstrate and our right to disrupt the existing social, political and economic order that we consider profoundly unjust and illegitimate,” CLAC said.
Last summer, CLAC targeted the Grand Prix event in Montreal, as did students protesting tuition hikes.
But CLAC said that it would try to shut down the métro transporting people to the Grand Prix, a threat that was either overstated or simply unsuccessful in the face of a heavy police presence.
Twitter: @LynnMooreTweets
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