Well, yesterday, November 10 2011, was certainly like none other I've ever seen at McGill University in Montreal. Sometimes you just gotta fight back, you know?
I've said this before, but I think whenever the police use chemical weapons like tear gas and pepper spray against us, it sets off something special in the mind. Of course it's painful and horrible, but it also (for me at least) serves as a bittersweet reminder that we are part of a worldwide movement to demand free education and a protection of social services. It serves as a harsh reminder that the police are not our friends, and also that we are being effective in fighting back against an economic logic that says that it's justifiable that a few get rich while the rest of us have to pay more for education, more for healthcare, more for daycare, etc. And students from Santiago to Athens to London and now Montreal are realizing this more and more.
So yesterday, when about a dozen students occupied the administration building at McGill, just immediately following a historic demonstration in the streets with over 30,000 people to resist Jean Charest's proposed tuition hikes in Quebec, the mighty boot of the state cracked down hard. Hundreds of students were violently pushed off the McGill campus at around 6pm. Tear gas and pepper spray were used against young students fighting for their right to study.
I was at the demo the whole time reporting and recording for CKUT radio. We went live on the air during the demo to bring people voices directly from inside the McGill occupation. It was live, emotional, and direct. Definitely some of the most exciting radio I've ever been part of, as hundreds of riot cops and police helicopters were amassing just blocks from the radio station.
You can listen to that broadcast here (there is coverage at around 10 minutes in, and 45 minutes in):
and here (for the first 10 minutes):
One quote from a student protestor that resonates with me the most here:
"I have 21 thousand dollars of debt, and Heather Monroe Blum (the principal of McGill) has a ten thousand dollar TV in her office".
As Propagandhi would say, "Is this class war? Yes, this is class war."
And, on another uplifting note, both CKUT radio and QPIRG-McGill won their referendums at McGill yesterday. Students affirmed to continue to support these organizations, and also rejected the online opt-out system that is draining thousands of dollars from both these groups ever year. It is a great middle-finger to all conservative forces at McGill, and a great victory for independent media and social justice on campus!
For more reporting on the day's events, go here: