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(en) Canada, Montreal: Media, Anarchists and cops clash at May Day march

Date Sun, 04 May 2008 10:34:21 -0400



Police used pepper spray to disperse a May Day rally and march minutes after it
began last night in the eastern part of downtown. Montreal police Constable
Laurent Gingras said some of the 300 protesters became violent during the
anti-capitalism march that started about 6:30 at the corner of Valois and
Ontario Sts. Police moved in to disperse the crowd about a half hour after the
demonstration began."Some people came armed with baseball bats that had nails
sticking out of them. Some people also threw billiard balls at police officers,"
Gingras said. ---- One of the protesters, Marco Iosabvitch, 18, said he believes
police moved in because a group of anarchists started a fight with two
well-known neo-Nazis who attended the protest.

"We think the neo-Nazis were there to sabotage the demonstration," he said. "But
the violence only lasted a few seconds and then they all ran away."

Protesters were also seen throwing beer bottles, cans of spray paint, and sticks
at police.

Police answered with pepper spray, and by penetrating the crowd to disperse the
protesters.

Many protesters said the police were unduly violent.

"I saw them hitting people, mostly with their clubs," Iosabvitch said. "They
didn't discriminate. They hit women, old people, young people."

Another protester, said police seemed to be instigate most of the violence.

"They circled us and they became very aggressive," said the 21-year-old
Montrealer who would not give his name. "There wasn't any act of violence on the
part of the protesters. There was no broken glass."

Gingras said he didn't know if police used pepper spray.

"It's possible some protesters were pepper sprayed. I can't confirm that,"
Gingras said.

Gazette photographer Pierre Obendrauf, however, said he saw several police
officers spraying a substance towards the protesters and he got a smell of the
spray.

"It was pepper for sure," he said.

Gingras said it would take several days before he could confirm whether pepper
spray was used.

A protester who calls himself S.I.D. Killer said police were "damn brutal."

"They provoked us so that they could show that we are violent," he said.

Gingras said police acted appropriately.

"The protest became illegal as soon as it became violent," he said. "We had the
responsibility to intervene and to disperse the crowd."

The riot squad was deployed at the intersection of Ste. Catherine St. and De
Lorimier Ave. Gingras said it was in order to prevent the protesters from
blocking the Jacques Cartier bridge.

Gingras said police arrested three people, two for assaulting police officers
and a third person for mischief, because he was spray painting graffiti on
public property.

He said there were no reports of injuries last night.

The protest ended in front of the Papineau métro station at the corner of Ste.
Catherine St. East and Cartier St. As a group of protesters gathered and chanted
about 8 p.m. However, the protesters descended into the métro as a group of
about 20 police officers surrounded the station. About 10 officers followed the
protesters into the station and down to the métro platform, to make sure they
got on the train.

Several protesters said they believe police were overly anxious to quell the
demonstration in light of recent violence that erupted last month after
celebration of the Canadiens' win in the first round of the hockey playoffs
against Boston got out of control.

Gingras said that's not the case and that the event could have gone much
smoother if organizers had been more co-operative with police.

"We have 1,500 events organized events every year. 98 per cent of them go well.
In this case, when we tried to approach organizers to find out what their plan
was, we received no co-operation.

jmagder@thegazette.canwest.com

http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/story.html?id=a2fb36c5-a347-4c62-b9a0-7aaf78778cd0&k=19607
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