Over 120 people have been detained following a massive rally marking the 100th day of demos against tuition hikes in Montreal. Many also came to protest a new law limiting the right to demonstrate.
The center of Canada’s second-largest city was swarming with people, as huge crowds turned out to protest the local government’s plan to hike tuition costs, as well as a new emergency law that requires rally organizers to inform the police of a planned demonstration and its route eight hours in advance.
A gaping four-meter-square sinkhole opened up in a major Montreal street after the march. Officials say no injuries have been reported.
Tuesday’s massive gathering was peaceful, and no scuffles between demonstrators and police were reported.
However, the hardline CLASSE student group and its supporters broke off from the main crowd to show their resentment towards the new law. The group later disintegrated into smaller factions in the streets and reports suggest some protesters set off fireworks and threw beer bottles at police. Riot police responded with pepper spray, and four people were reportedly injured.
The protest movement received support from Montreal transit union workers, several of whom also took part in the rally, and high profile celebrities such as filmmaker Michael Moore and rock band Arcade Fire.
Solidarity protests were held in New York, Paris, Calgary and Vancouver, though the scale was incomparable to the Montreal rally. In New York, the Occupy Wall Street movement took part in organizing two events aimed to raise awareness about the Quebec student protests and to deride anti-protest legislation throughout the world.
Students in Montreal have been protesting planned tuition cost rises since February. The movement appears to have galvanized after the Quebec government adopted the new emergency law last Friday. Sunday’s rallies turned particularly violent, with over 300 arrests, over 20 people injured and reports of police using tear gas and protesters tearing out slabs of concrete, jumping on cars and bursting open a fire hydrant.
Premier Jean Charest’s government has been adamant in maintaining its planned tuition cost hike of $254 per annum, and has defended the emergency law, arguing that similar restrictive legislation exists Geneva, Toronto, New York and other cities and countries worldwide.