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(en) 100 000 in Montreal: the biggest May Day ever in Quebec

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Mon, 3 May 2004 11:40:42 +0200 (CEST)

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I saw the organised working class yesterday and they where marching down
the large street's of Montreal Villeray working class neigborhood. It was
fucking impressive, the biggest demonstration I ever joined (bigger then
the Summit of the Americas). The union organisers said that with 500 buses
from outside Montreal, they where hoping to get 50 000 worker's in the
streets. According to various reports, some 100 000 people showed up. I
got no idea of how many people exactly where in the streets but what I do
know is that it took more then 3 hours after the beggining of the march
before the politicos where able to finaly hit the streets at the end of
the demonstration. That a hell of a lot of people!

I was with the anarchist contingent, wich was called for by the Montreal
based CLAC and Quebec City based Assemblee des libertaires (NEFAC
participate in both groups). I dont know how many militants where there,
people estimations are between 300 and 500. That's the biggest contingent
in years (maybe ever) at a worker's march but in any cases, it's also a
drop in the sea when there is so many people in the streets. The crowd,
altough generaly young & white (surprise!), did not look like a black bloc
or a punk festival.

We, in NEFAC, had plenty of banners and flags and some agitational
propaganda. The second issue of our new french agitational --Cause
Commune-- was just hot off the press and we distributed about a thousand
copies on the spot. Fortunately, it was not the only piece of
anti-autoritarian propaganda as members of La Sociale had made nice
stickers calling for wildcat strikes and the end of 'domestification' of
the worker's revolt. There was also a comrade who took the initiative of
anti-MLNQ propaganda, in case there was a confrontation, wich is always
good (both to confront the MLNQ and to have propaganda explaining why your
doing it... something wich have been lacking in the past.).

After waiting for two hours and a half for the march to start, we decided
to take a different route to get to the park where the march was ending.
A total of some 700 (maybe a thousand) radicals, including most of the
anarchists, Solidarity without border, the maoists and the radical
students joined into an impromptus 'wildcat march'. Along the route, a
number of graffitti where made, including sickle and hammer on half a
dozen cop cars.

The radical march finaly stopped where the main march was entering the
park wich gave us a good visibility with some of the marchers (the park
was already full when we arrived). We stayed there for a long time giving
propaganda away to arriving worker's and just generaly having a good time.
About an hour after the end of our march, the riot squad showed up. It is
still not clear why they did showed up at all because there was nothing
really going on, maybe it was because of the vandalised cop cars, maybe it
was because of a small fire in the middle of street, I dont know. The
union marshalls where paniking and the stopped the march just before the
CSD contingent, hoping that the teachers where able to get in the park
before the riot squad moved in. But the police did not bother to wait for
the marshalls plan to work and the choosed to charge the reds and
anarchists just in the middle of a peacefull teacher bloc causing chaos
and confusion (imagine about a thousand people being jumped on by both the
police and scary radicals! Everyone runned angrily for cover in the park).
The marshalls and just about anyone else where furious. Then the cops did
something really stupid. They just stood in the middle of the street,
blocking the path of several thousand union members who wanted to join
with their friends and comrades on the other side of the street. In other
words, they cornered themselved litteraly and they ended up being charged
from all sides by reds and anarchists. They finaly withdrew after some
confrontations, being forced to charge again a human mass to get back to
their old position. After that the marshalls moved in and imposed
themselves between the radicals and the cops. They did pacify and secure
the whole area. Several shouting match, and apparently a few scuffles,
erupted between young radicals and older marshalls (some of them frankly
reactionnary). The feeling in the unions crowds where preatty diverse and
seem to rely heavily on what people where actually able to see. Some
people, a minority I think, where supportive and angry at the cops. A lot
of people just didint understand what was going on. And then there was
angry people who felt the radicals where parasits and trouble makers who
did not belong in a union march (these people where generaly really angry
and vocal about their anti-youth, anti-anarchist sentiment).

All in all it was a great day.

Nicolas Phébus
NEFAC-Quebec, personal capacity

Pictures of the anarchist contingent will be soon available but for now
you can check this web page:

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