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In Quebec City, police are ready for a riot. All that’s missing are the protesters

Protesters torched a couch in Quebec City – then took a break for lunch

In Quebec City, hundreds of police in heavy riot gear appear ready for the worst to hit the streets over the G7 Summit.

The only thing missing are the protesters.

READ MORE: Quebec City G7 demonstrations get underway as city braces for day of action

After a peaceful protest on Thursday night, some shops had shut down on Friday as a precaution against potentially violent protests. But apart from several scattered demonstrations, there was little of the violence that frequently dogs such summits.

One that took place Friday morning in the northeast neighbourhood of Beauport was quickly declared illegal by police and dispersed.

A student protest shortly after 12 p.m. resulted in a couch being torched and riot police deployed around the popular Rue Saint Jean shopping area, but disbanded after participants gathered in a nearby park to eat lunch.

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A third protest was scheduled to take place at 3 p.m. outside the National Assembly.

Police deployed in force but protesters did not come out until closer to 4 p.m.

They marched up from the area adjacent to the Plains of Abraham, south of the National Assembly and the media centre, but were quickly blocked in by police who had set up a physical barricade keeping them from leaving the Plains.

“We didn’t even have the chance to protest, to use our free expression,” one Quebec women who came out to the demonstration told Global News who did not want to be identified and said police were infringing on the right to peaceful protest by barricading demonstrators in the park.

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“There’s black letter on white paper [the right to peaceful protest] that doesn’t mean anything.”
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However, their numbers remained small: only about 100 people were seen to be gathered on the Plains of Abraham.

READ MORE: Quebec City G7 protests get underway with a flash and a bang

Many of the people gathered there were journalists. Several bystanders remarked over the course of roughly an hour that the journalists seemed to outnumber the protesters.

Police certainly outnumbered them both, with hundreds deployed and marching through the streets.

After roughly an hour, those gathered on the Plains of Abraham under the sunny skies were allowed to disperse.

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Seven people were arrested.

Many wandered off up the Grande Allée, a historic strip behind the National Assembly with plenty of bars and restaurants.

Shops, including Starbucks, had boarded up their windows but there was no violence and no single large group moving through the streets.

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Residents sat on the patios enjoying a beer or late afternoon meal as police cars drove past and several small groups of six or seven protesters made their way out of the immediate area.

Previous G7 and G20 gatherings have been marked by violent protests in recent years.

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The burning of cop cars, vandalism of local shops and buildings, and use of both tear gas and aggressive action by police have become common.

Preparations for the G7 Summit this year have included a significant security presence both in the lead-up to and during the event in anticipation of riots and appearances by extremists using the controversial black bloc technique.

There remains uncertainty over whether further protests will break out into the evening now that the G7 Summit is officially underway.

Demonstrations are also scheduled for 1 PM and 3 PM on Saturday in Quebec City.

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