CREPUQ Occupied; Student Loses Eye to SPVM Stun Grenade
Riot police responded to a student protest on Sherbrooke just east of McGill Wednesday with baton strikes, pepper spray, and stun grenades, injuring around 20. A student from Cégep de St-Jerôme has lost the use of one eye after being hit by shrapnel from a stun grenade thrown directly into a crowd of demonstrators by the Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM). He remains hospitalized.
Around 100 students had occupied the lobby of the Loto-Québec building, where the offices of the Conférence des recteurs et des principaux des universités du Québec (CREPUQ) are located. The CREPUQ has been among the most vocal proponents of tuition hikes in Quebec. Around 800 more demonstrated peacefully outside.
Dozens of riot police moved in and charged at the assembled students. Some were thrown to ground; others were hit by batons and pepper spray. Police launched at least a dozen stun grenades, many directly into the crowd of students. Shrapnel from one grenade struck a student in the right eye, severely injuring him. Police reportedly refused to help him when he asked for an ambulance to be called. An SPVM spokesperson said the intervention was necessary because students had not told the police the route of their march.
In response to the police violence, enraged students took to the streets after night fell, marching from Berri-UQAM metro to the SPVM headquarters on St-Urbain, where some protesters tried to break the building’s windows with a metal barricade. Demonstrators continued through the downtown core, overturning trash cans, spraying graffiti on police cars, and smashing the windows of at least one SPVM van. Riot police arrived, blocking off St-Denis as the march returned to Berri-UQAM for a candlelight vigil.
But the night was not over for the SPVM; riot police forcefully dispersed the vigil, pushing students to the ground and making two arrests.
Montreal’s annual demonstration against police brutality will go forward on Thursday, March 15.