MONTREAL (AP) — Tens of thousands of students marched through the streets of Montreal to mark 100 days since the movement against higher tuition fees began. Tuesday’s protest came after Quebec’s provincial government passed emergency legislation intended to end Canada’s most sustained student demonstrations ever.
The peaceful protest turned more violent in the evening as demonstrators set off fireworks and threw beer bottles at police. Riot police responded with pepper spray. Police spokesman Simon Delorme said at least 100 people were arrested. Two police officers were injured, and four people were taken to the hospital. The extent of their injuries was not immediately known
Since the emergency law was passed Friday, nightly protests have often turned violent, resulting in some 300 arrests Sunday alone. The new law requires that a detailed agenda be provided for protests of more than 50 people.
Police declared the Tuesday night protest illegal after no one provided an itinerary. “They didn’t share the route, demonstrators were wearing masks and projectiles were thrown at police officers,” the Montreal police said on their Twitter feed.
Student groups have vowed to challenge the emergency legislation in court. Rights groups say the law limits protesters’ ability to express themselves democratically.
On the eve of Tuesday’s protest, the most militant of three major student groups said it would defy the new law and call for protests and strikes to continue throughout the summer, a busy period of outdoor festivals in Montreal which draws in millions of dollars in tourist revenue.
Quebec Premier Jean Charest has refused to roll back the tuition hikes of C$254 (US$249) per year over seven years. Quebec has the lowest tuition rates in Canada, and they would remain among the country’s lowest after the increases.
The conflict has caused considerable social upheaval in the French-speaking province known for having more contentious protests than elsewhere in Canada.