The students strike back: 75,000 protest austerity in Montreal

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The students strike back: 75,000 protest austerity in Montreal

Protesters sent a clear message on Thursday: we are mobilized, we are many, and we are not afraid

The weather report had called for “snow/rain,” but instead the clouds parted and the largest demonstration in Quebec since the student strike of 2012 was bathed in the sunny glow of springtime in Montreal.

UPDATE Apr. 6: La Presse is reporting this morning on photos showing a student trying to run from a police charge on Apr. 2, becoming trapped behind a minivan, and having his head smashed through the rear window of the minivan before he fell to the ground and was kicked and hit with a baton. No first-aid was administered by police, and this incident was not included in any action report from the day. The student was rushed to hospital where he received ten stitches: seven to his face and another three to his leg. The photos show the full sequence of events, and the student appears to have done nothing to provoke police. He has hired a lawyer and announced his intention to sue.

In Square Victoria, a park in the heart of Montreal’s financial district, each metro brought a new surge of people and the place was soon packed, with the crowd overflowing into several side streets.

Over 130,000 students were on strike across Quebec on Apr. 2, and according to the Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante, the crowd in Montreal reached around 75,000 at its peak. Based on my calculations, that’s a reasonable estimate. Other media outlets reported a number of 25,000, attributing it to police scanners, but that may have been prior to the demonstration’s peak.

Alongside students there was a strong labour presence, with public sector employees joining Montreal’s firefighters, labour federation Confédération des syndicats nationaux and dozens of other unions in the streets. McGill University’s law department was on strike for the first time in the history of that institution, and their banner was greeted with cheers wherever it went.

Nine student leaders are currently facing expulsion for strike-related activities at Université du Québec à Montréal, and the teachers’ union there also went on strike for the day, the faculty of that institution sending a strong message by joining their students in the streets. Read More…

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