Saturday, December 10, 2011

Front Row at our First Protest

The best part about visiting other places is experiencing the food, the people and the culture there.  But sometimes you can get a bit closer than you intended...which is exactly what happened to us during a quick getaway to Montreal.

After a day of playing tourists, Brett, Heather & Andy walked out of La Ville Souterraine (Montreal's Underground City & coincidentally, the largest underground complex in the world) and right into a protest!

Honestly, when we first heard the drummers we thought it was a parade, but then realized that traffic in all directions was at a standstill.  Our next assumption was that it was the Occupy Montreal movement...after all,  Brett's Halloween costume had left us with little drummer boy memories.

This is what we ended up being smack in the middle of on de Lorimier Avenue:

After a little investigating, we discovered the protesters were Congolese Montrealers who started their demonstration on the nearby Jacques Cartier Bridge.  The protest was a spontaneous reaction to the announcement of election results in the Democratic Republic of Congo and caught local authorities off guard.  (Congo's incumbent president, Joseph Kabila, won 49% of the vote, versus 32% for veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi)

We watched for about 30 minutes and then found seats a little farther away from the front row after the riot police marched up.  While we didn't stick around to see how it went down (hey, we were hungry!) we did see the aftermath of the traffic snarl for miles.  Sucked to be those folks, y'all!

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