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Quebec City protests: anti-fascist counter-protesters clash with police

WATCH ABOVE: An anti-immigration rally and counter-protest in Quebec City descended into violence and vandalism. Protestors clashed, hurling bottles, chairs and lighting flares. Mike Armstrong and a Global News cameraperson were caught up in the chaos – Aug 20, 2017

A counter-protest to a planned far-right demonstration in Quebec City turned violent Sunday afternoon after protesters clashed with police officers.

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Shortly after 2 p.m., police declared the duelling protests illegal, citing acts of violence and vandalism.

Anti-fascist demonstrators were seen pelting police with smoke bombs, fireworks and glass bottles.

The mounting tensions led police to block access to a parking garage where members of the far-right La Meute group had gathered, as authorities sought to keep the two sets of protesters apart.

Members of far-right group “La Meute” stand behind a police line as left wing activists regroup during an anti-racism demonstration, in Quebec City on Sunday, August 20, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

Amid the chaos, Global News cameraman Jean-Vincent Verveille was assaulted by protesters, one of whom destroyed his camera.

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WATCH: Violent clashes erupted between anti-fascist protesters and police in Quebec City Sunday afternoon. As Global’s Dan Spector reports, the conflict was expected to be between dueling demonstrations, both for and against immigration.

Verveille was shoved by the masked assailant, who seized the camera and smashed it on the ground, totalling it.

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Reporter Mike Armstrong, who was shoved down some stairs in the incident, tweeted that the attackers belonged to a violent group of anti-fascist protesters.

Armstrong and Verveille were not injured.

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WATCH: Global News camera grabbed, smashed on ground during heated protests in Quebec City 

In a statement, Global News’ senior vice-president Troy Reeb condemned the incident.

“We are disgusted and outraged by today’s unprovoked attack on a Global News crew covering demonstrations in Quebec City. While we are relieved that our journalists were not seriously hurt, Canadians should be concerned by this threat against the working of a free press. Our team was there to provide independent coverage and transparency as events unfolded – a goal clearly not shared by the thugs who shielded their identities in the commission of violence.”

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The perpetrators of the attack haven’t been identified.

READ MORE: Justin Trudeau condemns intolerant, racist’ rallies, urges trust in immigration system

La Meute had planned the demonstration to denounce the government’s handling of illegal immigrants, following the recent spike in asylum seekers arriving in Quebec.

Just before 6 p.m. Global National correspondent Mike Le Couteur tweeted that La Meute had begun their demonstration.

Earlier this week, the Montreal Antifasciste group called on anti-fascist and anti-racist groups to head to the provincial capital to oppose La Meute’s rally.

The call came after at least two Quebecers were identified participating in a white supremacist rally last week in Charlottesville, Va.

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Just before 4 p.m. activist Jaggi Singh‏ of the group Solidarity Across Borders was arrested. It remains unclear why he was arrested, and what charges he could face, if any.

The scenes in Quebec City were a stark contrast to events in Vancouver the previous day, when thousands of people attended a peaceful demonstration in response to a planned anti-Muslim protest that never materialized.

READ MORE: Thousands protest against anti-Islam, anti-immigration rally at Vancouver City Hall

Parti Québécois Leader Jean-François Lisée took to Twitter to denounce the violence.

“Violence and masks are no way to express yourself, no matter your opinion. Period,” he tweeted.

READ MORE:  Montreal police officers fined for ‘unethical’ arrest of activist

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, who was in Montreal to take part in Pride festivities, echoed the sentiment.

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“We condemn violence and intimidation. We live in a democracy where respect must be the norm and not the exception,” he said.

— With files from the Canadian Press


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