Cops break up May Day march in Montreal

6 arrested as anti-capitalist demonstration turns rowdy

A masked protester hurls a police helmet at cops after a clash broke out on Sherbrooke St. during a May Day march in Montreal on Sunday. Six marchers were arrested after the demonstration turned rowdy, police said. Photograph by: Bryanna Bradley, The Gazette

By Irwin Block, The Gazette

MONTREAL – Police broke up an anti-capitalist May Day march on Sunday after sporadic acts of violence and fears it was about to deteriorate.

A mix of communists, anarchists, Trotskyists, skinheads and members of other left-wing groups, estimated by Montreal police to number 700 to 800 people, began demonstrating peacefully shortly before 4 p.m. at Émilie Gamelin Park at Berri and Ste. Catherine Sts.

Six people were arrested for minor infractions, and seven police officers suffered minor injuries, Monteal police Constable Raphael Bergeron reported.

The march was stopped because it was “no longer peaceful,” and among objects seized were a metal bar and a Molotov cocktail, he said.

It followed an earlier demonstration in Plateau Mont Royal, supported by Quebec’s big labour federations, that attracted 400 participants, including Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe.

Mathieu Francoeur, a spokesperson for Convergeces des luttes anticaptitalistes Montréal, contrasted the two demonstrations, saying the labour movement’s goal is to reform the laws governing society, while the afternoon march was “an invitation to rebel against capitalism and patriarchy.”

One man wore a T-shirt saying, “I hate everything you love,” and the biggest group were red-flag-waving members of the Maoist Parti communiste révolutionaire.

Before the march began, police Commander Alain Simoneau announced via a loudspeaker that demonstrators would be allowed to proceed as long as they followed the direction of traffic and were peaceful. If there were any infractions, “We will put an end to the demonstration,” he said.

That is exactly what police did. About 4:10 p.m., someone ignited a flare and tossed it toward police at St. Urbain and Sherbrooke Sts.

Marchers’ ranks began to thin out as demonstrators headed west on Sherbrooke St. At 4:58 p.m., the police tactical squad began tapping nightsticks against their shields, a signal they were moving in to stop the march.

The demonstration was to end at the Ste. Catherine St. W. campaign offices of Westmount-Ville Marie Conservative candidate Neil Drabkin.

iblock@montrealgazette.com

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

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