Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Police open Quebec school, teachers shut it down again

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SAINTE-THÉRàSE, Que. -- Surreal scenes at a Quebec college underscored Tuesday how bizarre the student-related conflict has become -- and how difficult it might be to resolve.

Consider this: A court order had forced the school to reopen; as a result, some teachers and parents helped striking students form a picket line to keep other kids out; riot police then burst through to help enforce the court order; and, in the end, the school closed again because teachers weren't prepared to teach.

The height of Tuesday's standoff at Collège Lionel-Groulx saw riot police use pepper spray and physical force to help 53 students return to class after winning a court injunction.

But the self-described strikers, many of them wearing masks, have received support from some parents and school faculty who stood alongside them in a show of solidarity at the school north of Montreal.

After a few days of picketing, police moved in Tuesday. They issued warnings before bursting in and arresting five people, including a professor from another school.

As they blasted the crowd with chemical irritants, some of the protesters hugged and wept. Some of their adult supporters reportedly did the same.

And it all appeared for nought.

A few hours later, after staff meetings, the college issued a statement: Lionel-Groulx would remain closed for two more days, on Wednesday and Thursday. The professors said they were too emotional to be able to teach classes regularly.

So the school has shut its doors until Friday, at the earliest, at which point a new injunction takes effect.

"It was a climate that was very, very emotional," school spokesman Yves Marcotte said in an interview.

Tuesday was believed to be the first time police actually tried to enforce one of several court-ordered injunctions during the unrest.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 16, 2012 A8

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