Members of the Mohawk community of Kahnawake briefly disrupted traffic on the 132 approach to the Mercier Bridge this morning in a show of support for First Nations protesters in New Brunswick who clashed with police yesterday.
The demonstration, which slowed traffic as protesters handed out information to motorists, lasted from about 6:30 a.m. to 8 a.m.
The protest followed on the heels of another demonstration by the Mercier Bridge last night that saw a small fire lit and a noisy but peaceful march through downtown Montreal that drew about 200 people, including representatives of Idle No More.
Montreal protesters condemned the use of force by RCMP officers against members of the Elsipogtog First Nation who had blockaded a road leading to a shale gas fracking operation near Rexton, N.B.
Police moved in yesterday to enforce a court injunction against the blockade and hostilities quickly escalated after officers used pepper spray to quell protesters pushing against their line.
The ensuing clash saw five police cars burned and police use “sock rounds” — also known as bean bag rounds, which are a type of non-lethal ammunition — on two occasions during the clash in an attempt to defuse the situation.
More than 40 protesters were arrested for various offences including firearms offences, uttering threats, intimidation, mischief and for refusing to abide by a court injunction.
In Montreal, protesters angered by the arrests in New Brunswick gathered in front of the RCMP headquarters.
“Everytime First Nations stand-up for themselves, the police step in with excessive force to shut them down,” said Matéo Pequakami, an Innu who also attended last night’s Montreal march.
Demonstrators promised more actions in Montreal and across Canada in response to the situation in New Brunswick.
Another protest is planned in Montreal tonight.