Road Report – 5/1/2015 or “How I Spent My Day Off In Montreal”.

Well, today I can check “Experience Tear Gas” off of my bucket list. Let me explain…..

We pulled into town at around 4pm for an evening off. As we were entering the city we noticed quite a few police cars around and we were even passed by a line of 5 or 6 with their lights going. I didn’t really think much of it – maybe an accident somewhere or a hockey riot (do they have those?)

After checking into my room and relaxing for a bit, I ventured out for some coffee (I know, big surprise…) and a bite to eat. I enjoy walking around on days off – I can check out the city I’m in, maybe take some photos, and get a little exercise while I’m at it. I picked a direction to walk (mostly because there was a Starbucks in that particular direction) and a couple of blocks down, I noticed the beginnings of some sort of demonstration in a little town square type place. I figured that after eating I would go back to my room, grab my camera, and come back to see what was going on.

I spotted a Five Guys and couldn’t resist the call of a burger and fries, so I popped in and ordered. As I was sitting at the counter eating, I started hearing a loud thumping/banging coming from outside. It soon became apparent that there was in fact a protest going on and it was in the form of a march. People were banging on drums and any other drum-like objects they could carry along with them. It all seemed pretty cool and non-confrontational, and who doesn’t like a good parade? I had just finished eating, so I walked out and started heading back towards my hotel. Coincidentally, the parade/protest just happened to be headed in that very same direction. The protesters were marching in the street, and I was walking on the sidewalk along with the other non-marching folks. I grabbed a couple of shots on my iPhone while I was walking, and I was reminded of one of my favorite photography quotes: “The best camera is the one you have with you”.

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Yay! A parade!

As I was waiting to cross a side street, I noticed that immediately to my right there was a line of police in full riot gear. I also started hearing the police informing everyone via loudspeaker that this was in fact an illegal activity. Right about that time I noticed a white cloud of smoke begin to rise from the middle of the protesters in the street. At first I figured someone set off a smoke bomb or something. I managed to get another quick shot on my iPhone. Then I thought to myself “I wonder if that’s tear….” and just about then I realized that lots of people were running towards me and away from the street, and my eyes and throat began mysteriously burning.

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Hey – this smoke sure smells funny….

Taking a cue from the people around me, I pulled my shirt up over my nose and mouth and began walking away from the main street. It wasn’t until I got to the next street and had a block of buildings between me and the gas that I started to recover. I was fine by the time I got back to my hotel, and I grabbed my camera and headed back to the scene.

 

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Never wear orange to a protest…

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Look – more of that funny smoke…

As I was shooting a scuffle broke out and a protester was arrested, and pepper spray had to be used to disperse some of the people. Things seemed to calm down after that and everyone went their separate ways. After looking online, I learned that the protests were directed at the Quebec government’s austerity measures which apparently cut social programs and education. All in all a pretty interesting day. On a lighter note – the shows have been great and I’ll be home in a few days! Next up is a run in Europe. Thanks for stopping by and I’ll see you on the road!

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About John Zocco

Founder and administrator of ThePhotoRoadie.com

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