Quebec anti-austerity protests:
Police accused of shooting people in face with plastic bullets
France 24, May 12, 2012
A video filmed during a protest in Victoriaville, in the Canadian province of Quebec, shows a policeman aiming at a crowd with a gun followed by an image of a protester on the ground, with blood staining the back of his head. According to the protest’s organisers, these images prove that Quebec police shot at protesters’ heads with plastic bullets. We spoke to the person who filmed this video. On Friday, May 5, about 2,000 people showed up for a protest in Victoriaville, where Quebec’s ruling Liberal Party was holding a policy meeting. Led by the ‘Coalition Against User Fees and Privatization of Public Services’, the protesters’ aim was to denounce the government’s austerity measures. For more than three months now, students have been protesting against a 75 percent hike in tuition fees, ordered by Quebec Premier Jean Charest. Their movement gradually spread to include the country’s unions, who more largely reject theausterity measures imposed by the current government. According to experts, this may well be the biggest protest in Quebec’s history.
This video was filmed by William Ray, who explained that he filmed three sequences just a few seconds apart. He says he stopped his camera when the police fired, in order to help the wounded student. These images cannot prove whether the student on the ground was hit by a police bullet. As with many of the recent protests, the one in Victoriaville quickly descended into violence, with the police spraying protesters with tear gas and protesters throwing stones. Both sides have reported numerous injuries. This time, however, protest organisers said that “police repression escalated”, and have accused the police of putting protesters’ lives in danger by using plastic bullets. Three protesters were seriously wounded on Wednesday, notably Alexandre Allard, a university student who suffered a head injury. As of Friday, May 11, he was still in the hospital.
On this slowed-down version of the video, a policeman can be seen taking aim at 0’5 seconds. According to protesters, a colleague to the right of the policeman is showing him where to shoot. For the first time since the Victoriaville protest, Quebec’s police admitted during a press conference Thursday that Allard’s injury may have been caused by a projectile shot by one of its officers. Until then, the police had denied having wounded three young men, one of whom lost the use of an eye. However, the security minister has said no investigation would be launched until it was firmly established that Allard’s injury was caused by a policeman. Contributors
‘The young man was just standing there, not yelling, gesturing or throwing anything’
William Ray filmed the video above, which protest leaders submitted to the authorities Wednesday to encourage them to investigate the incident. The riot police had just pushed about 200 protesters to the side of a road by spraying them with tear gas. I was filming the police when I heard a weapon fired. I turned my head and saw a young man falling. He was unconscious before he hit the ground and his face was in spasms. Several people carried him a few feet to the rear. He was severely wounded behind the left ear. His eyes were open, but he remained unconscious. I had noticed this young man before he was hit. He was standing there, just looking around. He was not yelling, gesturing, or throwing anything. It took the police 20 minutes to get him into an ambulance. Meanwhile, they continued spraying tear gas in the area where he was lying on the ground. This post was written with FRANCE 24 journalist Peggy Bruguière.
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