Police and protesters clashed in downtown Montreal: May day

Updated: 00:00 GMT, Jan 1, 1970 | Published: 05:52 GMT, May 2, 2015 |

Police and protesters clashed in downtown Montreal at a nighttime protest organized by the anti-capitalism group CLAC.

Hundreds of people gathered at at least three different locations around the city, well before the protests officially got underway at 7 p.m. ET.  The group called on protesters to cause the “maximum disruption possible” to businesses downtown.

However, the majority of the crowd were people carrying anti-austerity messages with no intention of vandalism or violence. By 7:10 p.m., police had already declared the demonstrations illegal and began ordering protesters to disperse.

As demonstrators moved up McGill College Avenue from de Maisonneuve Boulevard, police began launching rounds of tear gas.

Families and bystanders were among those gassed earlier in the night. One woman said she brought her family to the protest thinking it would be peaceful. “Suddenly, there was tear gas all around us,” the woman, who did not give her name, said, as one of her children cried in the background.

“We have a baby with us.” Montreal police Sgt. Laurent Gingras said it’s regrettable that families were caught in the fray, but he said police warned people to leave the area before firing rounds of tear gas.