Anarchist Repression in Quebec

Jesse Hirsh (jesse@channel-zero.com)
Tue, 13 Aug 1996 19:44:45 -0500


>---------- Forwarded message ----------
>Date: Tue, 13 Aug 1996 09:33:56 -0400 (EDT)
>From: Grrrl <s_linds@alcor.concordia.ca>
>To: fnb-l@netcom.com, act@myth.org
>
> Anti-Anarchist Repression in Quebec
>
> June 24, Quebec's national holiday, is usually an uneasy
>combination of healthy fun and not so healthy flag waving. This
>year's celebrations in Quebec City, the seat of provincial
>parliament, turned hotter than usual to say the least.
> People had flowed into D'ouville Square following the
>traditional outdoor concert, joining others who were already
>there. (The square is the hangout of punks and countercultural
>types in the city). Cops tried to make arrests, provoking
>resistance from the crowd. Bricks and bottles began to fly.
>Rapidly a riot was taking place.
> The cops brought in a water cannon and the riot squad.
>Though the former proved as effective as a garden hose, the cops
>were able to push the crowed out of the square. 2,000 people
>continued to riot, looting 80 shops.
> At one point into the riot a crowd of hundreds gathered at
>the Parliament. People began to hurl paving stones and other
>objects at the buildings. 140 windows were done in, including
>all those on the ground floor of the main building. A statue on
>the grounds was upended, and people broke into one of the
>buildings, causing damage and setting a fire which was rapidly
>put out.
> The next next morning, Premier Bouchard presided an
>award-giving ceremony at the Parliament while workers went about
>repairs. Theories flew fast and furiously: who caused the riot
>and why?
> Ordering an inquiry into the riot, Bouchard was quick to
>opined that attacking the parliament was an "accident"; an
>"irrational act" by "people who didn't know what they were
>doing."
> Quebec City Police Director Bergeron then advanced his shock
>take: an extreme right group - which he refused to name - was
>behind the riot. "People from this group led the riot", he
>affirmed.
> Less plausible still was a theory in the tabloid Photo
>Police. In this version the purpose of the riot was... to boost
>the U.S. tourist industry. "These riots were planned and
>organized by the CIA at the request of powerful New England
>lobbies so that the East Coast of the U.S. could profit from
>tarnishing Quebec's reputation."
> Then a new voice made itself heard in the swirl of
>conspiracy theories. According to a local group called the World
>Anti-Fascist League (LAM), anarchists, and more specifically, the
>collective which edits the libertarian-communist journal
>DYmanarchie, were behind the riot. The president of the LAM
>brandished a copy of DYmanarchie (with a picture of a burning cop
>car) on TV, and pointed the finger at an editorial and articles
>which discuss two recent riots in Quebec. The LAM's 15 minutes
>of fame at DYmanarchie's expense included interviews on numerous
>TV and radio stations and quotes in all Montreal and Quebec City
>dailies.
> Rejecting "all claims of authorship and ownership" of the
>riot, DYmanarchie said in a statement that "the riot belongs only
>to those who participated in it." Riots are "spontaneous" the
>statement repeated from a previous editorial. "The hunt for
>scapegoats is an attempt to disguise the authorities'
>responsibility for the ever-worsening social climate which is
>making more and more people feel like they have less and less to
>lose."
> The LAM theises was initially dismissed by police director
>Bergeron as "not serious". He was aware of DYmanarchie, he
>said, but the group was to marginal to channel such an event.
>Soon, however, the focus of the police investigation began to
>shift. The offending DYmanarchie cover again appeared on the
>front pages of the papers brandished this time by the director of
>criminal investigation of the Quebec City police. The cops were
>still concentrating on the "professional agitator" thesis, he
>said, though now they were unsure which ones ("left, right, I'm
>not into politics, I'm a policeman.")
> Next, predictably, the raids started. First Quebec City
>Food Not Bombs (Food Not Bombs shares a P.O. Box with DYmanarchie
>but the people visited are not in DYmanarchie). Although the
>Food Not Bombs members were out of town during the riot, the cops
>discovered several pot plants, providing an excuse to arrest
>them. Patent from the outset was the political nature of their
>treatment. Refusing to grant bail, the judge stated: "It would
>sicken me to liberate philosophers of anarchy."
> The pot plants were part of a sinister plot he theorized, a
>"way of putting people to sleep to get them to swallow propaganda
>easier." The sentences handed down were harsher than the norm:
>one month in jail for the two people without a record and three
>months for a person with antecedents. Again linking them to the
>riot they hadn't participated in, they were informed that, for a
>year following their release, they were not to be present in the
>area of the Parliament or the walled historic section of Quebec
>City, where much of the looting took place.
> A member of DYmanarchie was then picked up while street
>selling the journal in Quebec City. The cops went on to raid his
>apartment where they confiscated a computer and samples of
>anarchist journals. Released without being charged, he was
>visited again twice by the cops, who asked him about his role in
>DYmanarchie and whether he knew various people in the radical
>milieu.
> Next the Montreal apartment of on of the founders of
>DYmanarchie was raided. Again a computer and anarchist journals
>were seized and no charges were laid.
> In Montreal, a coalition of anarchists, popular groups and
>leftist organizations called a press conference to denounce the
>arrest for street selling a radical journal, the witchunt against
>DYmanarchie and the role of the LAM.
> Interviewed by the paper La Presse about the press
>conference, Alain Dufour of the LAM bashed back, claiming it was
>his organization which was being used as a scapegoat. Dufour did
>not neglect to play up a major asset in the eyes of the
>mainstream media: his group's non-radicalness ("the LAM isn't
>perfect, but we're not a subversive organization").
> 200 people turned up at the demo, which took place at Berri
>Square, a hangout for Montreal punks and marginals. In the last
>few months the square has been the object of a clean-up operation
>and cops have been harassing people and dishing out tickets.
>Among the 10 or so speakers were 2 DYmanarchie people who were
>raided and a representative of Food Not Bombs. As things were
>winding down, the cops arrested the anarchist who M.C.ed the
>event, saying he had broken probation conditions which stipulated
>that he is not to attend demos. 60 people, mainly punks by this
>time, marched to the copshop, sitting infront of it and blocking
>the street off. After a tense two-hour standoff, the person
>arrested was released, to the heated applause of those present.
> At this point the debate shifted to the "alternative" media,
>Montreal's 3 news/cultural weekly freebies, where numerous
>articles, editorials and letters appeared about the role of the
>LAM and the witchunt against DYmanarchie. By now, it's
>credibility on the line, the LAM began to sing a different tune -
>or rather a number of tunes. "I don't like DYmanarchie. They
>make no sense and they have no credibility" said the president of
>the LAM out of one side of his mouth. "I don't want a war with
>DYmanarchie" he spouted out of the other, saying he had a "lot of
>respect" for anarchists. Documenting and attempting to make
>sense of all the outrageous or contradictory statements by the
>LAM would be a major undertaking in itself.
> As of this writing the dust has yet to settle.
> -10 of the 81 arrested in the riot remain in jail, some with
>18 or 20 month sentences.
> -On July 29 a speakout at D'ouville square in Quebec City
>was organized by DYmanarchie and HY...Basta!, a Quebec City
>anarchist zine, attracted bout 100.
> -On the same day an illegal demo took place at midnight in
>Berri Square in Montreal. The demo was called by Montreal Food
>Not Bombs to protest the recent change of status of the site from
>a square to a park, meaning it is closed from midnight to six
>a.m. and much more stringent rules are enforced (the square is where Food
>Not bombs sets up weekly).
> 200 people occupied the square, sitting in small groups
>throughout the one-block area. After vegetarian food was served,
>many people gathered to listen to fiddle and banjo music. Later
>Anarchist songs were sung from sheets that were passed out.
>People then shouted along with political punk music from a ghetto
>blaster and swirled in an improvised pit. At about 2:30 a
>bonfire was built.
> The cops remained discreet, circling the park without
>stopping. At 1 a.m., the remaining people were rushed by riot
>cops moving in from different sides. People were forced out of
>the square, regrouped and reoccupied it an hour and fifteen
>minutes later, after the cops had left. The riot cops returned,
>surrounding the protestors and made 70 arrests, including many
>anarchists. People were released the next day and were hit with
>$116.00 tickets for being in a public park when it is officially
>closed.
>
> M.W.

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Jesse Hirsh - jesse@channel-zero.com jesse@lglobal.com
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