MONTREAL (CP) - Relative calm returned to downtown streets late Friday evening after police searched hundreds of anti-globalization protesters for weapons and incendiary devices. An undisclosed number of people were arrested and fined $140 for unlawful assembly. Others were released and sent home.
Riot police armed with clubs and pepper spray moved in at about 6 p.m. to encircle the demonstrators who gathered in a square near Ste-Catherine Street. They had been marching peacefully, chanting and holding banners denouncing a two-day gathering in the city of labour ministers from the world's eight largest industrialized countries.
Federal Human Resources Minister Jane Stewart was presiding over the Friday-Saturday meeting.
City police said they responded after receiving information that some of the protesters were planning to throw Molotov cocktails or rocks.
"It was not simply a blind thing that decided that action," said police spokesman Andre Durocher.
But supporters decried the police action as an infringement of their rights to free assembly and expression.
Protest organizers from the Anti-Capitalist Convergence had promised to turn out to oppose the G-8 meeting. Some of their members greeted visiting ministers Thursday evening as they met with international union and business leaders at McGill University and had dinner.
Karina Chagnon, a spokeswoman for the Anti-Capitalist Convergence, said the meetings were a sham.
"The G-8 is the fuzzy mitten that drives the hidden hand of the market and the iron fist of the military," she told reporters on Thursday at an outdoor news conference in driving rain.
"The G-8 is like slavery. There is no way of reforming it. We must fight to abolish it."
Chagnon said protesters were also preparing to go to Ottawa on June 26-27 to demonstrate against the G-8 meeting to be held in Kananaskis, Alta., but was not specific about tactics.
She accused the G-8 of letting companies make maximum profits by eliminating labour norms and standards, slashing salaries and gutting unions.
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