NEWS

Police move in on latest student protest

03/28/2012 02:46 EDT | Updated 05/28/2012 05:12 EDT

Student protesters played cat and mouse with Montreal police on Wednesday, marching up and down streets in the downtown core in ongoing efforts to overturn tuition hikes.

As helicopters flew overhead, students circled the neighbourhood around Berri-UQÀM station, changing direction every few blocks.

The ever-moving march maintained momentum all afternoon, eventually dispersing just after 4:30 p.m.

Protesters were undeterred even though a group of them clashed with police earlier in the day after attempting to block the Port of Montreal entrance.

About 300 students took over a portion of Notre-Dame Street near Pie IX Boulevard for more than an hour.

At 12 p.m., they started marching east on Notre-Dame to another access point to the port.

That’s when police moved in. They used pepper spray and sound grenades to disperse the students.

Several students, many of them wearing masks, pushed back against the advancing police.

The confrontation lasted about five minutes before the students left Notre-Dame and headed toward Ste-Catherine Street.

The demonstration was organized by CLASSE, a national coalition of student associations representing the majority of the striking students.

It was the latest in a series of demonstrations against the government’s proposed tuition increases.

Protests intensify

A mass protest march last week drew more than 200,000 people and paralyzed many of Montreal’s downtown roadways. The march proceeded peacefully and no arrests were reported.

Student groups have promised to intensify their protest efforts.

Earlier on Wednesday, dozens of students blocked the entrance to the Quebec Liberal Party offices on Waverly Street, some making it onto the roof where they unfurled a banner.

On Tuesday, more than 200 students spent hours circling downtown Montreal, dispersing after a final demonstration in front of the headquarters of Loto-Québec. One person was arrested.

Despite the mounting demonstrations, the government has refused to yield on hikes to tuition that would amount to an overall increase of $1,625 for Quebec students.

Premier Jean Charest insist the hikes are necessary and continues to stress Quebec students will still pay among the lowest fees in the country.

Students also have refused to relent in their opposition to the hikes, arguing the increase will make post-secondary education less accessible.

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