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Francis Grenier, a student at Cégep de Saint-Jérôme, suffered a serious eye injury when shrapnel became lodged in his eye from flash-bang grenades fired by police at students during a protest over tuition fee hikes.
As many as 1,000 marched to the Loto-Quebec building on Wednesday, March 7th to protest college tuition hikes in Montreal. After students blocked the entrance to the building, that's when the police broke out the "non-lethal" weapons.
The video above seems to be a compilation of the events of that day, including later in the evening when students who were angry about the events earlier in the day returned and reportedly began smashing windows, spraying graffiti and overturning trash cans which was responded to with even more violent force from the police.
Montreal police will investigate after a 22-year-old man said his eye was badly injured by the blast of a police stun grenade during Wednesday’s student protest over tuition fee hikes.
Francis Grenier, a student at Cégep de Saint-Jérôme, told CBC News from his hospital bed that he doesn't know if he'll regain vision in his right eye.
He underwent surgery overnight for a detached retina.
Students said that the riot squad overreacted when some students started tossing snowballs at the police with helmets and shields. Grenier was almost hit in the head when a first stun grenade landed near him, and the second grenade came right after, only he wasn't so lucky that time. A piece of shrapnel became embedded in his right eye.
Montreal police said that it was "Too early" to conclude how the student's eye was injured.
A Montreal student and blogger notes that police refused to help Grenier after his eye was injured, and refused to call for an ambulance. Fellow students stepped up and transported him to the hospital for emergency treatment.
“People were resisting and refusing to leave,” Lafrenière responded when asked why police resorted to physical force.“
A large number just left, which was amazing, but some decided to stay on the scene … throwing objects at us.”
The students said the police action was excessive.
“They came with flash bombs, panicking the crowd,” said UQAM grad student Frank Lévesque-Nicol, who was caught in the middle of the melee.
“They came with sticks and hit us very hard. I was surrounded by eight cops at one point … and I couldn’t see anything.”
Lévesque-Nicol, 25, maintained that the only projectiles protesters were throwing were snowballs.
“What kind of threat is a snowball to someone in full body armor?” he said.
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There are more videos at this link, along with another account of events. Also a side note, Montreal’s annual demonstration against police brutality will go forward on Thursday, March 15.