MONTREAL – Quebec student unrest over planned tuition hikes at the university level has escalated.
A total of 37 protesters were being kept under police lock and key Friday, arrested in the wake of a violent overnight clash when Montreal officers were called in to break up an occupation of a downtown college building.
Those protesters are expected to face a range of charges that include conspiracy, assault by trespasser, assault with a weapon on police officers and mischief, Constable Anie Lemieux of Montreal police said.
“We don’t know” if all those behind bars are students enrolled at the CEGEP du Vieux Montréal, where the disturbance and subsequent eviction conducted by police took place, she added.
Meanwhile, students protesting a Quebec government program to escalate university tuitions planned a 1 p.m. demonstation outside a downtown Montreal hotel.
Said Lemieux as the cops were starting to deal with the criminal-court fallout from the early-morning events:
“Thirty-seven arrests. That’s a lot of people to check in. … It’s a busy day for police officers and investigators.”
Some of the protesters evicted overnight “were apparently using fire extinguishers and other projectiles like bottles” during their early morning confrontation with the forces of order, she said.
Eight among those detained are minors.
On-site damage included broken windows and graffiti.
Furniture had been piled up, clearly used as barricades.
It all started about 8 p.m. Thursday, Lemieux said, “with people inside.”
“I couldn’t say that they necessarily broke in,” she said.
“They were invited to leave” by the CEGEP administration, she said.
When they didn’t, officers moved in, starting about 2 a.m.