An anti-capitalist protest for International Workers Day turned violent minutes after it began on Tuesday.
More than 200 protesters gathered at Lafontaine Park around 6 p.m., many already wearing masks.
Around 6:30 p.m., protesters began marching toward downtown, accompanied by a large number of police officers in riot gear.
As the march reached the corner of Sherbrooke and St-Timothée Sts., less than 10 minutes after it began, fireworks went off. Some protesters appeared to be throwing firecrackers at police, who took cover behind parked cars.
Police used chemical irritants in an effort to disperse the crowd, splitting it into two groups, as police chased some protesters west along Sherbrooke, another group was chased back to Lafontaine Park.
In the park, police largely dispersed the crowd, though a couple people remained in front of the police line, yelling at the officers.
One police officer stepped forward and shoved one young man, who pushed the officer back, as other officers moved forward and started wrestling the young man to the ground, the crowd started to re-form.
For around an hour, police officers on bicycles chased protesters through the Plateau and arrested at least two other people.
Protesters reconvened near the Mont-Royal métro station and then marched to the Frontenac station without further incident.
It was not the only protest of the night. A separate protest, which began near the Parc métro earlier in the evening, proceeded peacefully.
A third protest, which began at Phillips Square at around 7 p.m., was declared illegal by police, who said they had witnessed illegal acts. It was dispersed near the corner of René-Lévesque Blvd. and Mansfield St. around half an hour after it began.
As of 8:50 p.m., police said they had arrested five people for criminal offences and arrested one person for breaching a municipal bylaw.
Sgt. Laurent Gingras, a police spokesperson, said those arrests were for assaulting a police officer, obstructing a police officer, assaulting a police officer with a weapon and mischief.
The mischief charges were related to the vandalism of two vehicles near the beginning of the march.
“Projectiles were thrown at police officers, which explains the multiple charges of assaulting a police officer with a weapon,” Gingras said.
Gingras said more arrests could still be made.
In the moments before clashes with police began, protesters spoke about their opposition to capitalism.
“I think that our society fundamentally needs to change,” said Aaron Lakoff, one of the protesters. “I think a lot about my ancestors who have been through this fight against unjust working conditions, immigrant rights struggles, feminist struggles, those are all a part of May Day. I’m Jewish, so I very much identify with the Jewish radical tradition of May Day as well.”
That tradition is one of people standing-up against bad jobs with bad working conditions and bad bosses, he said.
Riot police confront protesters from a May Day demonstration held by the Convergence des lattes anti-capitalistes in Montreal.