Via Infoshop News
A STATEMENT ON YESTERDAY’S EVENTS, WRITTEN THE EVENING OF MARCH 13
On March 12, the Alliance sociale held a demonstration against austerity measures in downtown Montreal. In the midst of this, 12 anarchists wearing black were arrested and mainstream media later reported that 10 of them have been charged with criminal conspiracy and possession of weapons. Conspiracy charges have recently been used in to jail anarchists, release them only with cruelly restrictive conditions (like non-association with their friends and loved ones), and otherwise disrupt their lives and their ability to act.
Those wearing black were specifically targeted as people to arrest. Riot cops and pigs on horses invaded the demo and proceeded to brutally arrest people. A few escaped before the police could form a protective cordon to prevent any intervention on the part of bystanders. This is, of course, what the police are paid to do: repress dissent. Yet union marshals also helped in the process by taking the side of the police, forming an outer ring around the pigs, and basically acting like cops themselves. An article released yesterday on CMAQ by Michael Lessard gives the impression that bystanders were united in their opposition to the actions of the police. This is simply untrue. Who knows how many of the onlookers sympathized with the arrestees, because no one took any action to help them. Of course, even if they had wanted to do so, their task would have been made significantly more difficult thanks to the self-important marshals in their brightly-coloured vests.
Once the anarchists were taken away, the rally proceeded as planned. Everyone walked obediently from point A to point B, listened to union bureaucrats and left-wing politicians give speeches, and in the end nothing had happened to disrupt the functioning of capitalism. Perhaps a few more votes will go to the Parti québecois in the next election, replacing the neoliberal government of Jean Charest with the neoliberal government of Pauline Marois. Either way, austerity measures will be implemented, as they must be. Austerity is the only way the capitalist system can survive the current crisis. To actually fight austerity, we must fight capitalism. And to actually fight capitalism, we must fight the police that protect this system and ensure that no demonstration ever becomes a threat. And fighting the police means fighting those who collaborate as well.
It should go without saying that, if there had been more willingness to resist the police as well as the marshals, there may not have been any arrests. And if there had not been any arrests, maybe that demo would have been something more than it was.
In a short matter of hours, a small group of people managed to organize a demonstration with over 100 people in attendance for 9pm that night. The callout had gone out over email less than 3 hours before this time, but through Facebook and telephone calls, many people quickly organized themselves and met at métro Guy-Concordia. A few short speeches were given and then people marched on the police station, taking half the street and disrupting traffic. We caught the police by surprise, and we were amused as they tried to quickly gather their forces to defend themselves. For a while, we chanted and made noise in front of the police station. People were angry.
Some people began to feel less comfortable when the police had blockaded both sides of the road. At this time, there was some confusion. Anticipating mass arrest or forced dispersal, one group of people attempted to cut across a parking lot with the intention of taking Sainte-Catherine. At this point, a firework went off, to the cheers of everyone. There was a confrontation at an intersection where people were hesitating about where they should go. While some people yelled at their comrades to move faster, others blocked police vehicles to prevent the group from getting divided. One woman doing this was hit by a police van that quickly sped up into her. Some others kicked the van and threw rocks at it before it got away.
Meanwhile, others had remained. The breakaway contingent returned and explained better the reasons why they had left. Eventually, people reunited and returned northward up Guy to turn east on Sainte-Catherine. People marched for several blocks, disrupting traffic and chanting loudly. Some graffiti was thrown up and some people in the street spontaneously joined us. There were small efforts to put barricades in the streets. Eventually, the demo dispersed.
There were some incidents. For one thing, people dispersed in a panic. In a very short amount of time, some people attempted to turn up a side street towards Maisonneuve, a much wider street than Sainte-Catherine. Then there were police sirens and car alarms going off, and suddenly a lot of people were running. While no was arrested, this was a potentially dangerous situation. Earlier in the march on Sainte-Catherine, a very drunk person who had joined the march threw a bottle into the crowd; it didn’t hit anyone, and they were quickly chastised by their friends and some people from the demo. There were a number of issues around communication, particularly for those fluent in only one language. And here we will cut to the words of a comrade:
“It’s always difficult to find a unity of direction in such a diverse group of people. We respect the different ways in which people choose to act, but it does bring up concerns. Was it the loudest people who had the most say in the direction of this demonstration? Did some of our friends feel silenced or isolated by the dynamics that emerged in this less-ordered demonstration? These concerns are not something we wish to ignore, but are conversations we hope to have, and hope others have as well, with some of the people involved. Although no formal group ever claimed leadership of the march, many of us knew one another, and we hope discussions emerge through these existing relationships.
“On the other hand, what we did have was a unity of purpose. Everyone who showed up knew why they were there, and none of those people were friends of the cops. Some people also joined the demonstration because this purpose was understood and stated clearly. We want our friends returned to us, and we want the police out of our lives.”
Since last night there has been another demonstration, during the day, at the rue Guy police station, which took place without much incident; the police were also much better prepared, which suggests they may be watching Facebook and other forms of social media more closely. By the time this article is posted on various websites, it is also possible that a demo marching to the courthouse will have taken place; the meeting place is scheduled for 9am at métro Saint-Laurent on Monday morning.
Solidarity is a weapon. It shows the pigs that our comrades are not isolated and that we will not sit on our asses when repression occurs. It communicates the true nature of this society, transmits signals of disorder. When we act together in the streets, as our comrades would want us to, we are gaining experience and cultivating relationships that will help us in the long struggle ahead.
And let’s not forget one last thing: Tuesday is March 15. The police would like to think they’ve killed our fighting spirit by arresting our “ringleaders” or some other such nonsense. Let’s not make things so easy. Now is the time to escalate the struggle, keep the pressure on, and fight hard. Remember, solidarity means ATTACK.
LE 15 MARS, LA VENGEANCE.
for the destruction of all prisons,