Last night Quebec students continued a week of pressure on the government over its austerity agenda with demonstrations in Quebec City and Montreal. The march in Montreal was called the ESTI DE GROSSE MANIF DE SOIR #PRINTEMPS 2015. “Esti” means communion wafer, but in traditionally Catholic Quebec it serves as a curse word. So choose your own expletive, but it translates roughly as “one hell of a big night march.”
Night demos harken back to the summer of 2012, when they were a daily and often dangerous reminder that students remained unbowed and defiant in the face of police repression. Last night’s event lived up to its name in attracting an estimated 5,000 people, a high number for a night march even by 2012 standards. Heavily shared examples of police brutality over the weekend and on Monday likely keyed a larger crowd, as organizers asked people to reject fear of the police and exercise their constitutionally guaranteed rights.
Mario Jean, aka MADOC, was where he usually is when the people are in the streets: in between police and protesters with his camera rolling.
“One senses that the protesters have finally realized that united, nothing and no one can stand in their way,” Jean told Ricochet. “Without fear, the role of the police is relegated to bearing witness to a movement. All we need is confidence in our own collective power.”
Meanwhile, last night in Quebec City, police moved immediately to break up an austerity protest for failing to provide an itinerary, as reported by Le Soleil. Without any provocation, police charged and kettled protesters as soon as the demo moved onto the street, according to the local daily. At least two cases of serious injuries caused by police batons to the face were reported, and 274 people were arrested and issued $220 tickets.
UPDATE The Journal de Québec reports that a police dog bit a protester on Tuesday evening in Quebec City, and for the record, their spokesman wants us to know they aren't sorry.
UPDATE The man bitten by a dog has been identified as Gabriel Marcoux-Chabot, a student, teacher and father of two who writes for Le Devoir. Marcoux-Chabot is a committed pacifist and popular activist known to many as "banane rebelle" for a banana costume he wore during the 2012 student strike. In a post to Facebook accompanied by a photo of his bloody and bandaged arm, he vehemently denies police allegations that he assaulted a police officer, whom they claim the dog was defending.
This short video report from MADOC takes you onto the streets of Montreal alongside the batons, concussion grenades and pepper spray as intense and violent physical confrontations play out.