Several oppositional artefacts were photographed at the annual demonstration against police brutality on March 15th in Montréal. A new public interest stenciling campaign has also set the stage for a week of scheduled events that initiate the 2015 edition of The Week Against Police Brutality: a panel discussion, a workshop, 2 demonstrations, a presentation, bands, hip hop, Howl! Arts, a benefit concert and the “St-Patrak” demo on March 22 that brings the week’s events to an end.
The Collective Opposed to Police Brutality (COBP) website explains why they decided to demonstrate during the St-Patrick parade, because its organizers initially scheduled the event on March 15, then quickly moved it to the following week. During a spectacle, there is no room for criticism, nor any association with it. “During these times of austerity and with the impending strike, the Printemps 2015 Committee decided it was a good idea to collaborate with the COBP to have the “St-Patrak” (which rhymes with ‘matraque’ or ‘truncheon’) demo. It is suggested to wear green, presumably to better “fit in”.
From the few photographs I saw online, today’s demonstrators seemed outnumbered by the cops. According to Anarchopanda, 106 SPVM police and another 21 police from the Sureté du Québec could be counted in this photo. I read somewhere about 5 days ago that the police had already declared the demonstration illegal!?! Pubic declarations of police brutality, when police reputations are at an all time low in Montréal (and elsewhere).
On February 9, 2015, municipal Judge Randall Richmond acquitted three people arrested 22 March 2013 in connection with a student demonstration and suggested that thousands of P-6 tickets could be invalid. Judge Richmond denounced violations committed by SPVM leadership. The arrests were precipitously enacted and the police falsified evidence by signing false attestations on the tickets of the accused. According to the judge, “the trivialization of this violation of the law by senior officers of the police department of the City of Montreal is staggering. Not only does the ordered procedure [of kettling] risk convicting the innocent, it seriously undermines the confidence we [judges] can have in the documentary evidence that is used every year in thousands of penal prosecutions.”
On February 26, Le Devoir reports that the city will not appeal the judge’s decision and subsequently drops charges on 3000 tickets for people kettled and mass arrested under the by-law since mid-May 2012.
How much has the city spent rounding up demonstrators, then later in the courts trying to collect the contested tickets that, at $637 each, were worth a whopping 1.9m$.
There were nearly 100 demonstrators kettled and given tickets in the demonstration. The SPVM cannot use P-6 since Richmond’s judgement, so they used the provincial law under Highway Safety Code 500.1, which according to a CBC article, is written for obstruction for highways, not to prevent demonstrations. This seems like another “violation of the law”. It looks like an abusive and unlawful practice. It looks like political profiling. The first paragraph of article 500.1, reads:
“No person may, during a concerted action intended to obstruct in any way vehicular traffic on a public highway, occupy the roadway, shoulder or any other part of the right of way of or approaches to the highway or place a vehicle or obstacle thereon so as to obstruct vehicular traffic on the highway or access to such a highway.”
The constitutionality of 500.1 is being contested in court and has risen to the Québec Superior Court since the case was received in 2011. Today’s kettle may provide more material against its constitutionality to render the law unusable. The COBP “encourages everyone arrested today to contest their tickets” to prevent its abusive use to justify mass arrests and follow the way of P-6″.
If you want to know more about police repression in Montréal and throughout Québec, he results of the People’s Commission on Political Repression will present its preliminary report on March 18, 2015.
Spotted recently on Blvd. St-Laurent is what may be a series of stencils that commemorate the people who were assassinated by Montréal police and the locations of the killings. It is an interesting project. Next time you pass by one of these stencils, remember that a person was killed by police.