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Quebec students arrested for wearing red square symbol, protesters claim

media Police detain a protester during a demonstration against a rise in tuition … Reuters/Olivier Jean

Montreal police are being accused of political profiling after 130 people were arrested in the past four days during the Formula One Grand Prix event. All those apprehended were allegedly wearing the symbol of the Quebec protest movement, a red square.


The hardline student group, Classe, is calling for an independent inquiry into police actions over the weekend. They are also gathering testimony from people who believe their civil rights were violated after being arrested without cause.

A spokesperson from Classe, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, said on Monday that this political profiling is “extremely worrying for our democracy”.

"I decided to stop wearing a red square to the protests", a student by the name of Emilie told RFI's correspondent Marie-Laure Josselin. "With the red squares, we were pointed out and then easily identified", she explained.

Montreal police chief Marc Parent said that these arrests were preventative. 

“There were no systematic searches or arrests of people who were wearing the red square," he said. " [Our arrests] were based on the behaviour of people who gave us reason to doubt their intentions. You have to remember that a mass organised protest was planned for Sunday.”

For weeks prior to the Formula One, chanting protesters threatened to disrupt the Quebec premier Charest’s Grand Prix. One anti-capitalist group even drew up a plan to fill subway cars to prevent people getting to the races.

Students in Quebec have been protesting against a 75 per cent rise in university tuition fees over five years. Protests have been daily since early February and have paralysed much of the downtown core of the city.

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