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(en) Ireland, Workers Solidarity #80 March 2004 - When the summit circus came to Quebec and lost Quebec 1, Global Elite 0

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Sun, 11 Apr 2004 10:51:12 +0200 (CEST)


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With the Mayday EU demonstrations on the horizon for Dublin we take a look
at opposition to a previous summit and the organising that went into it.
The Summit of the Americas, a meeting of 34 head of state to
advance the agenda of neo-liberal capitalism, was held in
Québec in 2001. The local population, given the events in
Seattle, initially met the prospect of hosting such a summit with
apprehension. However a huge popular campaign eventually led to
a 50,000 strong demonstration. But that's not what's so unique
about Quebec 2001. Even more striking was the positive response
of the local population to demonstrators - black bloc militants and
peaceniks alike. A six month long grass-roots campaign in the
neighbourhood where the Summit was held had a lot to do with it.

Comite Populaire Saint-Jean-Baptiste

Six months before the Summit, members of a local Quebec
community group, the Comite Populaire Saint-Jean-Baptiste,
decided to organise against the it. The Summit was billed as "the
biggest Canadian security operation ever" and the Comite
Populaire chose to focus on the security measures because it was
here that the Summit clashed most clearly with the interests of
local people. Op-position was particularly strong to the huge
security fence as it was attacking a basic civil right, freedom of
movement, with residents having to show a special passport at
checkpoints.

Initially some activists thought the is-sue of the fence was a
secondary issue. However, the Comite Populaire saw it as the
main point of friction for people. The first thing the campaign did
was to collectively decide on a plan of action. We cannot
overestimate how important this was, as it gave everyone a sense
of direction. We chose to focus on two big events: an information
campaign and a mass action.

The protection racket

The attitude of the authorities, especially the cops, helped us a lot!
They didn't want to meet with people, or give information on the
security fence. People were forced to turn to the campaign for
information. We just had the information that was in the news,
but since we contextualized it and put it in a leaflet, it looked like
we provided more information than the cops did.

The authorities said the security measures were basically in the
interest of the locals since it protected them from 'anarchist
hooligans.' However, since they left most of the local shops
outside of the fence, people concluded that it wasn't to protect
them but instead to protect the politicians.

After much discussion over what type of demo to hold, we came
up with the idea of a fake funeral to highlight the burial of
civil-rights. The advantage was that it was a mix between street
theatre and a traditional demonstration. Also, it didn't really
matter how many people showed up, since the symbolic effect
would be the same whether we were 50 in the street or 200. The
thing we didn't want was another angry demonstration because
we felt it would play directly into the media stereotype of activists.
There were some 400 locals at the funeral. This was far beyond
our wildest expectations (we only made 100 placards!). The crowd
was really diverse with the vast majority being ordinary working
people, moms, kids, and older people, as well the usual suspects.

Carnival of Resistance Against Capitalism

It was during the first week of April that the fence was erected in
downtown Quebec City. The people and media spontaneously
called it the "Wall of Shame." It was a shock for many people who
didn't bother much about it before. The fence in itself probably did
much more than our campaign to radicalise people. From that
point on there was no need for further agitation against the fence.
New graffiti appeared every day. People and groups in
Saint-Jean-Baptiste took it on themselves to redecorate the fence
and put all kinds of objects on it.

To the activists the job of the Comite Populaire was more or less
over. However, that's not how the folks in the neighbourhood saw
it. For them it seemed our job was just beginning... They wanted
us to organise something during the Summit on the main street of
the neighbourhood. They wanted a peaceful demonstration/street
party directly at the edge of the fence! The Carnival on Saint-Jean,
as the protest elsewhere, was a smashing success. But that's
another story.

Nicolas Phebus is a member of the NEFAC, the North-Eastern
Federation of Anarcho-Communists. For a longer version of this
article see www.nefac.net/newswire/display/112/index.php

See also

* Anarchism and the European Union
http://struggle.ws/wsm/eu.html
* FortressEU (protest organisation page)
http://struggle.ws/eufortress/index.html
* Against capitalist globalisation
http://struggle.ws/wsm/global.html


Mayday Mayday http://struggle.ws/wsm/ws/2004/80/mayday.html
EU leaders in the castle - we'll take the streets. On Saturday, the
first of May, anarchists and other activists from the Dublin
Grassroots Network are calling for a day of action and protest
against the EU.
=============================
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'Workers Solidarity'. We also provide PDF files of all our
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This edition is No80 published in March 2004



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