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Staff note: The news report was not translated, but the following text is a summary of the clip featured on the link below.
June 19, 2012
The special session of the City Council on the question of adopting stricter rules for controlling demonstrations ended in a scuffle and an arrest at Québec City Hall on Tuesday afternoon.
Around forty protesters, including students wearing the red square and representatives of social groups, entered the council chamber to try and disrupt the vote of council members.
Mayor Régis Labeaume later found himself caught up in a minor fracas. As he was leaving the chamber, the Mayor, who was accompanied by his Chief of Staff Louis Côté, had a brief exchange with one of the protesters.
The protester was shoved backwards by Mr. Côté. He then followed after the Mayor, Mr. Côté as well as Councilor Steeve Verret. Verret was nudged forward by the protester before stumbling to the floor.
Tempers then flared between the protesters and the Mayor and his entourage. Police officers had to intervene to calm people down and evacuate the protesters. They proceeded to arrest the protester involved in the scuffle. He will be charged with simple assault.
Following these events, the protesters left City Hall and began marching in the streets of Québec City. The police quickly declared their gathering illegal and proceeded to arrest 21 people on Rue Saint-Jean, at around 3:30 pm.
The Mayor’s press secretary, Paul-Christian Nolin, responded late Tuesday afternoon to the incident that occurred earlier at City Hall.
He explained that the protester had been very insulting towards Mayor Labeaume, calling him a “clown.” According to Nolin, Mr. Côté believed at the moment of the encounter that the protester was going to physically accost the Mayor. The chief of staff had thus acted to protect him, said Nolin.
Tightening the rules governing demonstrations
The city’s new bylaw on “peace and good order,” adopted prior to the scramble, requires citizens to inform the authorities of the place, the time and the route of their demonstration. It also forbids the presence of a crowd on public property between 11:00 pm and 5:00 am.
The regulation has aroused the indignation of many social groups. “Many organizations like ours organize actions and spontaneous demonstrations every year. It is sometimes done in the context of electoral campaigns. We’re going to directly engage the candidates and, of course, we don’t announce it in advance to the Québec police because obviously, our action would be completely neutralized,” explained Mathieu Houle-Courcelle, spokesperson of the Comité populaire Saint-Jean-Baptiste.
“If they say it’s so urgent, it’s because the idea is to use the regulation for repressive purposes. But it’s precisely that which we denounce.” – Sacha Calixte, a teacher at Cégep Limoilou
The City claims that it wanted to provide itself with new tools in anticipation of the student demonstration next Friday and the Saint-Jean-Baptiste festivities taking place the following day.
The bylaw had been withdrawn at the very last minute two weeks ago, because Mayor Labeaume wanted to expunge the section prohibiting the wearing of masks.
UPDATE: In a previous version of this article, we published the photo of a man who was being arrested by two Quebec City police officers at the end of the demonstration that took place after the scuffle. The layout of the article could have falsely led to believe that this man was David Grégoire, the citizen involved in the scuffle.
Translated from the original French by Translating the printemps érable.
*Translating the printemps érable is a volunteer collective attempting to balance the English media’s extremely poor coverage of the student conflict in Québec by translating media that has been published in French into English. These are amateur translations; we have done our best to translate these pieces fairly and coherently, but the final texts may still leave something to be desired. If you find any important errors in any of these texts, we would be very grateful if you would share them with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please read and distribute these texts in the spirit in which they were intended; that of solidarity and the sharing of information.