Roughly two hundred protesters gathered in Washington Square Park with pots, pans, whisks, ladles, and other forms of kitchenware for a nightly protest in solidarity with the students of Quebec, who have been on strike for 110 days in opposition to tuition hikes and an emergency law restricting protest rights. Despite the restrictive law, as many as 400,000 Canadians have flooded the streets of Montreal, just north of the border. In homage to those protesters, participants in Wednesday’s demonstration in New York City pinned small squares of red cloth to their shirts, a play on the phrase “squarely in the red.”
A woman named Audrey, originally from Montreal, addressed criticisms of the Québécois students. “The tuition levels as they stand in Quebec,” she said, “are the lowest in North America. People are calling the Quebec students spoiled. But … they’re not afraid to say that they believe it’s their right to have access to free or very affordable education.” In the US, student debt recently surpassed a total of $1 trillion, meaning that access to higher education is significantly scarcer in the United States, but has inspired protests only a tiny fraction of the size and ferocity of those in Quebec.