May 26 2012

Montreal Student Protests Over 80% Tuition Hike

“À qui la rue? À nous la rue!”

For 15 weeks the students in Montreal, Quebec have been boycotting classes and protesting in the streets over the provincial government’s plan to hike university tuition fees by 82 percent over the next seven years. The students have been joined by other Montreal residents, young and old, who are now taking to the streets to protest Bill 78 which imposed draconian fines and measures to end the protests. Every night st 8 PM they take to the streets with pots and spoons, banging and marching in what has now been labeled the “Saucepan Revolution” and not just in Montreal:

People took up the percussive protest Thursday night in several towns and cities including Sorel, Longueuil, Chambly, Repentigny, Trois-Rivieres and even in Abitibi — several hundred kilometres away from the hot spot of Montreal.

They were still loudest in Montreal, where a chorus of metallic clanks rang out in neighbourhoods around the city, spilling into the main demonstrations and sounding like aluminum symphonies.

The pots-and-pans protest has its roots in Chile, where people have used it for years as an effective, peaceful tool to express civil disobedience. The noisy cacerolazo tradition actually predates the Pinochet regime in Chile, but has endured there and spread to other countries as a method of showing popular defiance.

Thursday’s protest in Montreal was immediately declared illegal by police, who said it violated a municipal bylaw because they hadn’t been informed of the route. They allowed it to continue as long as it remained peaceful.

Usually the nightly street demonstrations, which have gone on for a month, have a couple of vigorous drummers to speed them along their route. At the very least, someone clangs a cow bell.

But in the last few days, the pots and pans protest — dubbed the casseroles by observers — have acted like an alarm clock for the regular evening march, sounding at 8 p.m. on the nose in advance of the march’s start.

Occupy Wall Steet has joined in solidarity with the protests and Occupy livestreamer Tim Pool is now in Montreal and covering the protests every night starting about 8 p.m. when the pots and pan bashing begins.

Arrest have exceeded 2500 surpassing the October 1970 crisis when martial law was declared in the city in response to actions by Quebec nationalists. Friday night the student protesters and their allies surpassed them selves marching through the streets in downpours, with high winds and tornado warnings. The event was caught on video and an enterprising videographer set it to the music of local band named Arcade Fire that has now gone viral:

1 comment

  1. TMC

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