Once again Montréal was the scene of it’s much beloved annual fistfight between students/activists and the city’s police, leading to a record-breaking 250 tickets being handed out, an as yet undetermined number arrests and several officers taken to hospital for treatment.
Mayor Applebaum could not be reached for comment, but a pre-typed statement indicated he had absolutely nothing to do with unethical and preferential re-zoning legislation, resulting in a multi-million dollar residential development project he most assuredly did not personally benefit from. His press-attaché noted that he had recently become an admirer of MP Peter Penashue’s method of answering unscripted questions from the public.
I kid – no one asked him what he thought.
Who could possibly care – all this was expected anyways.
The Anti-Police Brutality Coalition’s seventeenth annual anti-police brutality march was over pretty much before it got started, which I can imagine any sensible person might suppose, given the heightened police presence in general as a consequence of long-running and utterly futile demonstrations against education-specific austerity measures employed by our most recent minority separatist youth-parliament.
In fact, it seems as though police from the GTA were called in to bolster SQ and SPVM ranks, something I’m sure didn’t sit all too well with a bunch of activists who are convinced of a broad state conspiracy in which all police forces are working together to clamp down on dissent etc. etc.
Yes, we live in more of a conservative state than we’re generally used to, but it is not a police state.
And though the Montréal police do not have the best of reputations when it comes to apparent ‘over-zealousness’ (to use a term recently batted about the local press) in dealing with demonstrators, to do have a very real problem killing people needlessly, be they poor, young, immigrants or orderlies walking to work on a sunny summer morning.
That said, the COBP should know better by now that they have no hope of holding any kind of peaceful demonstration if the people they attract have no actual interest in having a peaceful demonstration.
Among other things, they know full well that the law states the planned march/demo needs to be approved by the SPVM ahead of time. While I’m certain the opinion of the membership is that doing so would be a waste of time, I’m also willing to bet they didn’t bother just to cover their own ass.
In any event, apparently the cops were more than ready for it and employed what I would consider to be excessive force in quickly dispersing an already illegal demonstration. Considering the actions of some of the protestors (but by no means a small number) – including blocking irate drivers rather than simply letting them pass – police action doubtless had the tacit approval of the working classes too busy getting on with their jobs to participate.
I didn’t see much but considering how many local journalists covered the events, I feel like I was in the thick of it. Kudos to all the brothers and sisters out there reporting and recording for posterity the very minutiae of our lives. Once we sober up we might be able to make sense of it…
Is it me or this all a bit nuts?
For COBP, does it not discourage the general public from taking their issue seriously (and let’s face it, there aren’t too many organizations out there who are actively engaged in at least drawing attention to police brutality, save perhaps for Julius Grey (for those who can afford his rates) and the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations’ Fo Niemi, who is specifically focused on race-relations)?
Where are their lawyers?
Where’s their legal fund?
When do they hold their fund-raisers or issue their press releases?
What relationship do they have with the voting public? Which local politicians and elected officials also care about this problem of police brutality and have the interest of COBP in their hearts and minds when they’re developing legislation?
If these seem like ridiculous questions (as they might pertain to COBP) then I think you get my point – they exist but to use ‘direct action’ against the police as a single entity instead of using public appeal to push out the truly rotten apples in this bunch.
But of course, if the organization is opposed to very concept of policing in the first place (an easy position to take when one grows up in the nearly-no-crime suburbs, but I digress) then there’s simply no chance an event like this will go anywhere but South.
As for the police, the sheer number of police who are available (and seemingly enthusiastic about such operations) is disturbing – but maybe not for the reasons you think.
Montréal police make, on average, $19.50 an hour, and work about 65 hours over two weeks. They are close to the very bottom in terms of police salary nation-wide (ballpark $33,000 per annum for the young cops who handle the bulk of the work, especially the dangerous stuff). These are, predominantly, family-oriented people who live in the suburbs, and signing up for riot duty is a surefire way of making a little more green to help pay all the bills a typical nuclear family might incur. Toronto cops make three times as much as their Montréal counterparts.
What I find disturbing here is that we have an abundance of police officers who require more work, shitty work, and further still that there’s clearly a burn out in process if police need to be ‘imported’ from at least three different forces in the GTA.
This is bad news. On top of all of this is the anachronistically-named Policeman Brotherhood’s request that the ‘test-schedules’ implemented a year ago become the new normal (something beneficial to the load of new parents on the force, and a plan which has been rejected by the city leading to the possibility of more ‘fashion-protests’ wherein the police don’t wear their new all-black uniforms) and union boss Yves Francoeur’s on-going feud with the city’s director general Guy Hebert, asserting the latter wanted to sack SPVM police chief Marc Parent.
While I don’t think the SPVM will strike as they did back in 1969 (leading to an as-yet un-matched orgy of violence, chaos and destruction in our fair city), more student unrest could result in such drastic action. And why not? All we need is for the police to say they won’t work for a defined period of time and we can sit back and witness the city tear itself to pieces, seemingly for the sport of it.
It would be as silly and needlessly destructive as maintaining an annual anti-police brutality that habitually results in police brutality. It takes two to tango after all.
A thought: next year, what if COBP held a candlelight vigil on St-Jean or Canada Day, in front of City Hall, or in Place Jacques-Cartier (or any other high-tourism location), as opposed to what they currently do, which is in essence to bring a knife to a gun fight, giving the police every reason to use irregularly strong force and then decry the actions COBP instigated.
There are saner ways to achieve social change.
In any event, for your viewing pleasure, a CBC report from the 1969 Murray Hill Riot.
Those were the days… people used to get killed in Montréal riots. It occurs to me that there’s a part of the current student/activist mentality that yearns for the street battles of Paris, Chicago or Prague circa 1968.
That was a long time ago, and time’s have most definitely changed. Their issues are not our own, their methods useful for purposes we no longer have. But there’s nonetheless a palpable sentiment public demonstrations, marches and rioting is all part of the process on the road to social progress.
I doubt it – at least with what I’ve seen here, and I came up in my more formative years in precisely this environment.
Yes, there’s a lot to be royally pissed off about, far more today than eight years ago in my opinion. But we’ve known nothing but widespread and regular public demonstrations for a considerable time. Most have been peaceful, but there seems to be a troubling number that quickly turn south and further isolate the movement for social change from the general, and voting, public.
Such a situation is untenable. If violence is to be avoided, those organizing against state-sponsored violence must do all they can so as not to elicit it. Again, as I said before, we don’t live in a police state.
So why provide the justification for a such a state to exist? We, the youth, have no power but our ability to use modern communications technology to make our point heard, quickly and often with devastating effectiveness. In the last weeks, we saw how idiotic PQ policies quickly wound up making our province an international laughing stock and yesterday saw the birth and death of Amir Khadir’s equally idiotic notion we should commemorate the terrorist and murderer Paul Rose.
We can’t find a better way of getting our point across?
Are we even trying?