Montreal police made one arrest and fined more than 180 people Thursday afternoon after kettling a group of protesters on St-Denis Street near Ontario Street during a student demonstration.

UQAM masked protesters

A group of about 40 people, some of them masked, walked through the university's Hubert Aquin pavilion Thursday afternoon. (Sarah Leavitt/CBC)

The protest, organized by the student group ASSÉ, was declared illegal by Montreal police at around 3:30 p.m., and a crowd of about 180 students were loaded onto police buses.

Meanwhile, inside the halls of  UQAM's Hubert Aquin Pavilion on Ste-Catherine Street, a group of about 40 people — some masked — chanted loudly and demanded the resignation of the university rector as they marched through the building.

Profs, students call for UQAM top brass to quit

A group of UQAM students and professors is denouncing what it says are the school administration's extreme and unnecessary actions throughout the student strike.

In recent weeks, UQAM has called in police to break up several demonstrations and blockades at university buildings.

The group is calling for the university's top administrators to resign.

At a news conference this morning, René Delvaux, a student at the university, said that the school's actions have exacerbated the situation, leading to heightened tensions.

Delvaux specifically cited the recent expulsion of nine students, saying their removal was politically motivated. He condemned the administration for silencing students.

"They created this situation," he said.

UQAM professor Marcos Ancelovici said he believed the administration — and specifically the rector — were negotiating in bad faith. 

Minister supports rector

Quebec's Education Minister François Blais said he stands by the rector of the Université du Québec à Montréal, Robert Proulx, who took action to quell violence that erupted inside a university's building during student protests.

"We support you, and we believe that your university will be able to overcome the actions of just a small group of students," Blais said at a news conference this afternoon in Quebec City. 

Blais said he would not address the issues of the right to education or the right to strike, but he repeated the government does not "recognize the right of certain people, even as part of a democratic process, to prevent other people from going to class."

Students trash UQAM building

His comments come only hours after a group of students and professors at UQAM called for the resignation of senior UQAM administrators in the wake of a violent clash between protesters and police inside the university's J.A. DeSève Pavilion overnight Wednesday.

Over the course of the lengthy protest, 26 students who occupied the building were arrested.

On Wednesday night, a large group of protesters barricaded themselves inside the school's J.-A. DeSève Pavilion.

Students occupied the building in downtown Montreal as part of the ongoing student-strike movement. 

Twenty-one people had been arrested at UQAM during an afternoon protest.

'Our constitution protects the right to peaceful assembly and I think intimidating other people, disrupting courses, damaging property is not peaceful assembly.' - Geoff Kelley, Quebec MNA

The evening protesters' occupation was to express displeasure with those arrests, as well as a statement made by UQAM Rector Robert Proulx, who said that the university has the legal obligation to continue teaching courses to students who paid their tuition.

Beginning sometime in the late evening, protesters barricaded the doors with chairs, tables and other objects.

RAW: Dramatic footage from UQAM occupation and police intervention1:44

They littered garbage all over the floor of the building, spray-painted graffiti on walls, broke vending machines and overturned almost everything that wasn't bolted down.

Police eventually broke a window to enter the building and put an end to the occupation just after midnight.

"There was a small group of people waiting for us with fire extinguishers and all kinds of projectiles that was thrown in the direction of police officers… It was a heck of a confrontation," said Cmdr. Ian Lafrenière of Montreal police on CBC Daybreak Thursday.

He said police had to wait for the university's authorization to enter the building. Once inside, officers made a statement announcing people had to leave.

Lafrenière said protesters left. As people poured into the street, they left behind a trail of garbage and destruction.

Officers used tear gas to disperse the crowd.

Police said several cruisers were damaged, a few people were fined and that one person was arrested for assault with a weapon against a police officer.

UQAM

Students ransacked the J.A. De Sève Pavilion at UQAM overnight from Wednesday to Thursday, breaking vending machines, piling up chairs and tables to block doors and littering garbage all over the floor. (Thomas Gerbet/Radio-Canada)