'Pots & Pans' Sing Solidarity as Defiant Quebec Protests Persist

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Common Dreams

'Pots & Pans' Sing Solidarity as Defiant Quebec Protests Persist

'You are the pot and we are the spoon!' students tell the government after mass arrests fail to halt protests

by
Common Dreams staff

A cook from a Laurier street restaurant bangs his pot to support students and anti Bill 78 protesters take to the streets in Montreal Thursday May 24th 2012. (Allen McInnis/THE GAZETTE)

On Tuesday in Montreal an estimated 400,000 people paraded through the streets to protest government education policy and marched in a 'river of red' to voice their opposition to a new law - Bill 78 - seen by many as an attempt to criminalize public protest and squelch free speech rights. It was the largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history.

On Wednesday, thousands took to the streets with pots and pans in a jovial, but direct, challenge to the law. In a mass arrest, over 500 people were surrounded by police, detained, and issued sizable fines beginning at $600.

And on Thursday night -- showing no signs of backing down after the mass arrest the night before -- students again hit the streets in defiance, again banging pots and spoons, and were joined by diverse members of the community in a show of solidarity.  Some walked with the protesters through the streets, while others banged and clapped from the balconies as the marchers moved passed.

Students were joined by retirees as well as families with children, all marching in a festive atmosphere. "(Quebec Premier Jean) Charest, you are the pot and we are the spoon!" one banner read.

"Being fined for protesting and demonstrating is silly. I am not afraid of being arrested for fighting for democracy," demonstrator Katie Nelson, 19, who traveled across the country from her home in the Alberta province to support the protests, told Agence France-Presse, and adding that she expects Law 78 will ultimately be ruled unconstitutional.

“I’m here in solidarity with the students,” said Henri Fernand, 65, who took part in the protest in his wheelchair, according to a report in the Montreal Gazette. “The youth is our future and I'm proud of them,” he added.

Similar demonstrations attended were also held in the provincial capital Quebec City and reported elsewhere across the province.

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A short video history of the student movement: Red Square Revolt: The Story of the Quebec Student Strike

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Agence France-Presse: Quebec protests resume after mass arrests

Thousands of protesters returned to the streets across Quebec late Thursday in defiance of a new law regulating demonstrations and despite the arrest of some 1,000 protesters this week.

The latest protests came after the Canadian province's government invited student groups to talks in a bid to end more than three months of demonstrations over a proposed university tuition hike.

In Montreal, thousands of residents hit the streets at 8:00 pm Thursday, banging pots and pans and chanting against Law 78, a measure passed last week requiring activists to notify police ahead of demonstrations.

The students were joined by retirees as well as families with children, all marching in a festive atmosphere. "(Quebec Premier Jean) Charest, you are the pot and we are the spoon!" one banner read.

At least three separate processions were under way, with protesters chanting: "The special law, we will win!" despite an appeal from Montreal's mayor for residents to remain at home and bang pots on their balconies.

Demonstrator Katie Nelson, 19, who traveled across the country from her home in the Alberta province to support the protests, said she did not fear arrest or the fines, which start at $600.

"Being fined for protesting and demonstrating is silly. I am not afraid of being arrested for fighting for democracy," she said, adding that she expects Law 78 to be ruled unconstitutional.

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Montreal Gazette: Thursday night march in Montreal illegal with pots-a-clanging

Thousands of protesters returned to the streets across Quebec late Thursday in defiance of a new law regulating demonstrations and despite the arrest of some 1,000 protesters this week.

The latest protests came after the Canadian province's government invited student groups to talks in a bid to end more than three months of demonstrations over a proposed university tuition hike.

In Montreal, thousands of residents hit the streets at 8:00 pm Thursday (0000 GMT), banging pots and pans and chanting against Law 78, a measure passed last week requiring activists to notify police ahead of demonstrations.

The students were joined by retirees as well as families with children, all marching in a festive atmosphere. "(Quebec Premier Jean) Charest, you are the pot and we are the spoon!" one banner read.

At least three separate processions were under way, with protesters chanting: "The special law, we will win!" despite an appeal from Montreal's mayor for residents to remain at home and bang pots on their balconies.

Demonstrator Katie Nelson, 19, who traveled across the country from her home in the Alberta province to support the protests, said she did not fear arrest or the fines, which start at $600.

"Being fined for protesting and demonstrating is silly. I am not afraid of being arrested for fighting for democracy," she said, adding that she expects Law 78 to be ruled unconstitutional.

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