Quebec college to remain closed after tense standoff
Tear gas used as police tactical squad moved in to control students, teachers and parents
Posted: May 15, 2012 9:39 AM ET
Last Updated: May 15, 2012 11:02 PM ET
Tuesday's tense standoff at Collège Lionel-Groulx in Sainte-Thérèse, Que., has forced college administrators to give up on plans to reopen the school for a handful of students for the time being — and possibly for the remainder of the week.
Early Tuesday morning, provincial police tactical officers moved in on a group of students, teachers and parents blocking the school's entrance.
The protest was declared illegal at around 8:30 a.m. ET, and protesters were told to disperse.
Authorities were trying to enforce a court injunction allowing some 50 students to return to class. Similar scenes have played out at colleges across Quebec in the past few weeks.
'Both of them have a part of truth, but you can't really establish who is right and who is wrong.'—Sebastien Fontaine, Collège Lionel-Groulx student
The tactical officers began moving in on the group just after 9 a.m., pulling people out from the mass of demonstrators. Tear gas was also fired.
Five males, aged 17 to 41, were arrested. Provincial police later confirmed they face charges of mischief for blocking access to the building.
Students flashed peace signs at officers as the group was forced from the entrance, and pushed back across the property by the advancing line of police.
Blasted with chemical irritants, some of the protesters hugged and wept.
"It's easy to repress," screamed one of the last remaining protesters, taunting the row of riot police guarding the school.
"In 30 years they'll be saying you were a disgrace! You were a disgrace!
"People will say we were repressed!... [You were] hitting people with billy clubs, gassing young people."
Parents of some of the students watched on in tears as the officers, dressed in heavy tactical gear, moved toward the campus.
Sebastien Fontaine, who attends Lionel-Groulx and supports the students' right to study, said he was disappointed with the Tuesday morning confrontation.
"It's not something you look forward to seeing," he said, adding the security was necessary given the building tension.
"I don't blame them for coming in. I mean, both of them have a part of truth, but you can't really establish who is right and who is wrong. It's all part of a debate, people have different values. You can't really just decide who is right and who is wrong."
Traffic disrupted in another protest
Earlier in the morning, demonstrators briefly blocked the Jacques Cartier Bridge in Montreal, temporarily disrupting traffic.
Montreal police moved in quickly, chasing some of the demonstrators through a nearby park before making 21 arrests.
Nine women and 12 men face charges of causing mischief over $5,000.
Another group of about 200 protesters tried to get into a Power Corporation of Canada meeting at the Intercontinental Hotel in downtown Montreal before riot police pushed them back.
Many of the protesters wore masks and red squares, the symbol of the student movement, and chanted anti-police and anti-capitalist slogans as they continued their march through the city's core.
The latest protests come a day after Quebec's education minister resigned and another member of Premier Jean Charest's cabinet stepped in to take her place.
Treasury board chair Michelle Courchesne has taken over the hot file, including talks with student groups that began protests over university tuition hikes 14 weeks ago.
Courchesne met Tuesday afternoon with university and college administrators. A second meeting, this one with key student representatives, ended Tuesday evening after one hour 45 minutes. CLASSE spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois described it as cordial, saying 'channels of communication' were open.with files from Canadian Press
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