MONTREAL - Montreal police made a series of searches and arrests in connection with disruptive protests, and those detained Thursday included the daughter of an elected politician.
Amir Khadir, the sole elected member of the left-wing party Quebec solidaire, confirmed that his 19-year-old daughter was among those arrested.
Before breakfast, police entered the family's downtown home as one of eight searches around the city. Police officers were asked to do the polite thing as guests — and take off their shoes, Khadir said — but they refused the request from his spouse and walked in.
Five out of 11 people being sought Thursday were arrested. Charges to be laid will vary. They include mischief, break and enter, conspiracy, and the serious crime of committing a terrorist hoax which carries a maximum five-year prison sentence.
It was unclear what charges Khadir's daughter, Yalda Machouf-Khadir, might face. Her arrest came just two days after that of her politician father, who was released with a fine.
Khadir had compared his own act, of blocking a street during a protest, to the civil disobedience of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King. As police officers entered the family home Thursday morning, they walked past a sign on the balcony that said: "When injustice becomes the law, resistance becomes a duty."
Khadir told reporters in Quebec City that the episode was disturbing. However, he avoided launching into a legal defence when asked about his daughter's case.
"As any citizen who's been arrested, bothered, billy-clubbed, lost an eye, imprisoned, intimidated in all sorts of ways, yes, it's very troubling," Khadir said.
"But everyone is equal before the law. If reprehensible acts were committed by my daughter, or by anyone else, they need to answer for their acts and the police will do its job."
Thursday's police operation was aimed at cracking down on people who helped paralyze the Montreal subway system by tossing bags full of bricks on the track as well as those who vandalized Universite de Montreal and the offices of former education minister Line Beauchamp in separate incidents.
Another charge relates to assaulting an officer during a protest.
In April, various objects were tossed onto metro tracks, slowing down the subway service, and in May smoke bombs were used to shut the system down one morning. Four people have been arrested and released on severe bail conditions in the smoke-bomb attacks while others are still sought in that case.
There were also three arrests in Gatineau, Que., on Thursday related to the defacement of buildings. Sixty-two spots in the area were painted with the stylized face of Guy Fawkes — better known lately as the logo of the online activist group Anonymous. The group has targeted Quebec government and government-related websites since the tabling of a special anti-protest law.
In Montreal, Khadir's wife, Nima Machouf, told reporters assembled on the sidewalk outside her house that police showed up at 6 a.m., while everyone in the house was asleep.
They were carrying a search warrant.
"They came to pick up my daughter and her boyfriend and they had a warrant to get evidence — in particular clothes and shoes," Machouf said.
"After a four-hour search of the house, they left with papers, leaflets and a garbage bag (containing) their morning coffees."
Machouf said she was worried — as any parent would be when their child is arrested. But she said arrests come with the territory when someone is involved in such a "resistance."
"I put myself in the place of all the other mothers and families that are living through the same thing these days. There are a lot of students who are in the sights of the government and will be arrested — or have been," Machouf said.
"I sympathize with them. We're all experiencing the same worry."
No names of suspects were being released by police; those arrested will appear in court Friday.
The arrests came just as Montreal's four-day Formula One weekend kicked off, with protesters promising to disrupt parties and events related to the glitzy race. One protest on Sunday is actually scheduled to take place inside the metro, on the subway line leading to the track on the day of the race.
Some supporters of the protests quipped on social media that perhaps the arrests were timed to scare people away from wrecking the biggest annual tourism event in Canada.
But police denied any link between the arrests and Grand Prix weekend. They said they had received many tips from citizens frustrated by the recent disruptions.
Premier Jean Charest avoided wading in when asked about the arrests.
"I don't want to comment on these things," Charest said. "Police do their work, and procedures get followed."
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