Riot squads with both the Montreal police and the Sûreté du Québec were out in full force Wednesday evening working to control several May Day protests.
Montreal police spokesperson Emmanuel Anglade said the protests began at around 7 p.m. at multiple starting points.
“We have three ongoing protests,” he said.
Fires could be seen burning on Ste-Catherine Street, between Peel and Metcalfe streets, as riot police lined up at both intersections, closing the street off to traffic.
Firefighters dispatched to the scene quickly brought the blaze under control.
Anglade, speaking to Global News from the police operation centre, said officers had begun targeted interventions to ensure events run smoothly.
“We’ve observed illegal activities,” he said. “We are in the process of asking people to respect the law and telling people to disperse.”
By 8:30 p.m., Ste-Catherine Street was reopen to traffic.
Just before 10 p.m. police tweeted that “five people had been arrested for various offences and criminal acts” and that several acts of mischief had been committed. There were also reports of vandalism in the area around Lionel-Groulx Metro station where many of the protesters had gathered earlier in the evening.
May Day, or International Workers’ Day, falls on May 1. It is a day dedicated to the working class and stems from the 19th century labour movement in the United States when labour unions rose up to fight for better worker conditions and salaries.
Every year in Montreal, various groups, some identifying as anti-capitalists, stage protests in the city.