MONTREAL - An estimated 300 protesters, many wearing masks and singing anti-police chants, snaked their way through downtown Montreal on Tuesday night in the annual march against what they call police brutality.

Police turned out in significant numbers but no incidents were reported in the early stages of the event.

At one point, the protesters headed west, against the traffic, on busy Sainte-Catherine Street.

Before the march began, some people took turns hitting a large effigy of a police officer bearing a pig's head as it was strung from a tree branch.

Many of those present at a pre-protest gathering said they are often victims of profiling and that police follow them on the street and harass them because of what they look like.

The protest has been held in Montreal for nearly 20 years, with some ending with smashed-in storefronts and damaged cop cars.

Last year's event led to one arrest, while nearly 100 tickets were given out and several police cars were vandalized.

That march was declared illegal as soon as it began because organizers had not informed authorities of their route.

In 2014, five people were arrested, while 200 were detained a year earlier.