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10 Jun, 2012 15:13

Montreal mayhem as students protest higher fees and F1 (VIDEO)

Police in Montreal have used tear gas and pepper spray to disperse protests against planned tuition hikes and the hosting of the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal. Around 30 protesters have been arrested.

The demonstration started peacefully on Saturday evening with 500 people gathered in the streets banging pots and pans. However, as the crowd reached the area where the Grand Prix viewing stands had been set, police tried to stop protesters.  Tear gas and pepper spray were fired at demonstrators as some of them began to jeer at the authorities. The police have arrested dozens of protesters, with different sources reporting numbers detained from 25 to 37.Earlier in the day, police also arrested three protesters carrying fireworks and cans of spray paint. Montreal Police reported that all arrests were targeted and there could be more serious consequences.  Several police cars were reportedly vandalized as protesters covered vehicles with graffiti and broke windows. Quebec province has been seeing more protests over the past weeks as students protest against tuition hikes. They see Sunday's Grand Prix race as an "elitist event." They are trying to attract attention of the media and public in their fight against proposed higher tuition fees for education. However, some of those who are coming to the Grand Prix find the demonstrations more disturbing than fascinating.  “This is not about school anymore. I don’t even call them protests, I call them anarchy,” one of witnesses was quoted by local media. Montreal’s visitors also witness a march of near naked protesters on May 8 when thousands of men and women took off their clothes to show their disagreement with both tuition hikes and hosting Formula One Canadian Grand Prix.Student leaders vowed to target the Grand Prix when talks in Quebec broke down last week after they rejected a government offer to reduce the planned tuition rises. What students wanted was a two-year tuition freeze, but this possibility was completely ruled out.More than 2,500 students have been arrested since February, when the protests began.