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One Dozen Arrested In Student Strike Solidarity Protest

By aaroncynic in News on Jun 7, 2012 3:20PM

What began as a peaceful march to show solidarity with striking students in Quebec last night ended in at nearly a dozen arrests on Michigan Avenue. About 100 protesters assembled in front of the University Center at 525 S. State St., which houses students from DePaul University, Columbia College Chicago and Roosevelt University, to call attention to the massive student strike taking place in Quebec, where thousands of students have taken to the streets to protest tuition hikes for nearly four months.

In speeches, demonstrators paralleled the struggle striking students in Quebec face to similar struggles by U.S. students, highlighting the increasing amount of debt American college students suffer, as well as laws passed regarding actions from law enforcement towards protesters in both Canada and the United States.

After a short march through the loop, one demonstrator, standing in front of the Metropolitan Correction Center on Clark and Van Buren said “Anyone who wishes to resist austerity, anyone who wishes to evaluate their future less in terms of what they owe and rather more in terms of what their class can take back, is going to be made into a criminal.”

Demonstrators made their way north on Michigan Avenue towards the Canadian consulate and attempted a sit-in in the street in front of the building, but police quickly ordered the protesters to vacate. From there, demonstrators continued north, eventually finding themselves at Michigan and Ohio. Several times along the way, demonstrators attempted to move from the sidewalk to the street, and each time, police blocked them. At Michigan and Ohio police tackled and arrested two protesters, then moved into the crowd and grabbed other demonstrators. A dozen demonstrators were arrested, and several officers struck protesters with metal batons. In more than one case, officers rushed into groups of demonstrators who were standing in groups on the sidewalk, tackling and arresting specific individuals.

All but one protester were released early this morning from the Central District police station on 18th and State. Those released mostly face charges of reckless conduct and resisting arrest. Police are still holding Gary Wagaman, a man from Michigan, and charging him with felony aggravated battery to a police officer. They say Wagaman threw an object which struck the officer in the back of the head, though there has yet to be confirmation of the incident. Police told CBS News that "in spite of the claims that officers were overly aggressive, none of the protesters had to go to the hospital."

(Ed. Note: The Tribune reported the object allegedly tossed by Wagaman was an 8-inch frying pan. The Trib also reports that five police officers were injured in the scuffles.—CS)