Photo cred - Antonio French
We’re all well aware that Montreal, apart from being festival city, is also protest city. In recent years, students protesting against tuition hikes and economic austerity policies in Quebec have become common place.
Protests have become so rampant in Montreal, the city even modified their by-laws to protect themselves should things get hairy, which they invariably do. The most notable amendments require protesters to provide an itinerary to police beforehand and to demonstrate without their faces covered. Many argue that these new restrictions violate the freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in both the Canadian and Quebec charters. That said, with mass (peaceful) demonstrations often gathering thousands to the streets, pots and pans in hand, police have had their hands full dealing with what they deem as riots and have often resorted to physical force in an attempt to contain these protests. One such measure is rubber bullets, and the effects are devastating.
As recently as this past April, approximately 10,000 students once again took to the streets, calling for an end to austerity, and once again, riot squads charged at the crowd with rubber bullets and tear gas. As to be expected, several were injured, including a photographer from the McGill Daily.
Messed up right? This is not the only known case either, as just last year a 72-year old man, albeit slightly deranged, suffered injuries from being shot by a rubber bullet after a 20-hour standoff with police. The man died a month later in hospital.
All this to say, Montreal SPVM do equip rubber bullets and are not afraid to use them. I’ll leave you with a picture I came across on Uproxx recently regarding the horror show happening in Ferguson, Missouri right now so you can get an idea of just how “safe” this alternative is compared to the real thing..
Bare this in mind next time you come across a riot squad.
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