(en) Political Prisoners's in Montreal

James Dumaine (James_Dumaine@babylon.montreal.qc.ca)
10 Dec 1997 04:11:03 GMT

A AA AAAA The A-Infos News Service AA AA AA AA INFOSINFOSINFOS http://www.tao.ca/ainfos/ AAAA AAAA AAAAA AAAAA

>MTL'S RESTAURANT ACTION billed "the unthinkable" by media
>-Injustice system speaks of "leaders", "violence" and "professional
>agitators," imprisons activists & begins laying charges.
>-On Friday, two of the 108 arrested refuse draconian release conditions and
>remain in prison.
>-Trials for Yves Manceau and Alexandre Popovic, the two political
>prisoners, set for December 16 and 18.
>Last Wednesday's food-grab action in Montreal's Queen Elizabeth Hotel is
>making waves. When some 120 poor Montrealers decided that hunger and
>poverty was too much, that charity was too condescending, and then
>proceeded to pillage an expensive buffet restaurant, the authorities
>clamped down massively. The police's dirty campaign to make us look violent
>and led by "professional agitators" is so far proving rather flimsy.
>Since Wednesday night: who was released when:
>Late on Wednesday Dec 3 comrades that had not been arrested, as well as
>friends and relatives, came down to police headquarters where the 108
>arrested were being interrogated and processed. Around 10 pm, three minors
>were released. Then some of the 35 or so women were let free. They were
>greeted by a solidarity vigil that was some 40-strong at midnight. The
>vigil did a lot to keep morale high, as the men and women still imprisoned
>next door in Bonsecours prison found out about our presence. Despite our
>being told otherwise by the police, most of the prisoners were not released
>in time to catch the last metro (subway) around midnight.
>By 5 am Thursday morning, 104 had been released. 48 of the 105 adults had
>no accusations against them as of yet. The others were indiscriminately
>charged with robbery, mischief, and conspiracy to rob (complot pour vol).
>They are to reappear in court in early February 1998. No release conditions
>were imposed on these people. This was not the case with the remaining
>four. Jean-Francois Delisle, Yves Manseau, Alexandre Popovic and Luc
>Brisebois were singled out, either because of previous entanglements with
>the law, or because the authorities needed to finger "leaders".
>By Thursday noon, the four were brought before a judge, and only one of
>them (Delisle) agreed to the following release conditions: along with
>notifying the court of any change of address, they had to stay away from
>the community centre that houses the Comite des sans emploi de Montreal
>centre (Committee of the unemployed, the organizers of the action) for the
>duration of the judicial process; to not communicate with any of the other
>three accused; to not organize or participate in any action.
>The remaining three prisoners refused these harsh and unusual release
>conditions that amount to punishment before even a trial let alone a
>conviction. The prisoners were then taken to a prison far away from
>Bonsecour prison in Old Montreal. Again on Friday, they appeared at the
>courthouse to review the situation. Our lawyer, Pascal L'escarbeau (who is
>working pro bono (no charge)) did his best to have the men released
>unconditionally. He asked why was there a focus on these four, who for now
>are accused of the same things as the other 57 or so persons released
>unconditionally? The prosecutor also had to admit that the hotel's
>management had not pressed charges against the activists. Witnesses were
>called to testify that the community centre, the Comite Social Centre Sud
>at 1710 Beaudry street, was not the Headquarters of the Revolution.
>The rest of this pre-trial hearing focused on whether the unusual release
>conditions were justified. The day wore on as the hearing brought out the
>political content of the situation. Our lawyer asked how did these men pose
>a threat to public security. Were they dangerous or violent? On this key
>question the prosecution seemed to waffle: the conditions were not for
>public security, but one of the accused had said in jail that the actions
>would multiply and grow in scope and effect. The prosecutor then
>contradicted himself by saying that public security was at risk. As for
>more serious charges, the prosecution claimed that they intend to charge
>some of them with assault. To overdramatize, the prosecutor impressed upon
>the judge how the courtroom is filled with activists who refuse to stand
>when he enters the room, but when the accused enter, they stand, giving
>clenched-fist salutes.
>The judge offered to Alexandre Popovic and the two others the same release
>conditions save one: he could go to the community centre. He refused, and a
>trial date was set for December 16. Luc Brisbois accepted the release
>conditions, but only until December 16, when he would reconsider the
>situation. The prosecutor immediately pounced on this to inquire what was
>so special about the 16th. Were there other actions in the works? Yves
>Manseau's hearing was cut short by the judge, who was growing visibly
>impatient with the political overtones being heard. Rather than let Mr.
>Manseau call witnesses and be given the same consideration as the previous
>two accused, the judge simple told him the new conditions. Puzzled at why
>he'd been denied the right to be heard, Manseau did not accept the release
>conditions. His trial was set for December 18, and he was led off to the
>prison at Riviere des Prairie. At this point, one of the activists in the
>audience shouted out (in English) to the judge something along the lines
>of: "this court is an instrument of injustice! ..you are condemning us to
>poverty..." She refused to sit down, or to be quiet. The confrontational
>atmosphere was heavy, and security personal began moving towards her. The
>prosecutor wanted the room evacuated immediately, and the judge demanded
>that she sit down and be quiet, or else the room would be emptied. The
>activist did not stop, and the hearings in court room number 5 came to an
>end in this defiant and tense atmosphere.
>We also organized a press conference that afternoon. We denounced the
>attacks on democratic freedoms, the situation with the comrades still in
>jail, the campaign of lies saying that we used violence, and the
>shortcomings in press freedom when the police can seize a station's
>footage. One station put the story first on the 6 o'clock TV news. It was
>an unusually sympathetic take on the situation.
>We also called on other organizations in Quebec and Canada (and elsewhere)
>to show their solidarity. To all those individuals and organizations that
>have called, faxed and e-mailed words of encouragement and support, we
>thank you, we thank you for your solidarity and eagerness to bring about a
>more egalitarian society.
>Our action has received considerable print, radio and TV media attention.
>Initially it was presented as "the unthinkable happened today in Montreal",
>a mob action done by "Leftists" and "the work of professional agitators".
>CBC news even fell for the police ruse of saying Alexandre Popovic is the
>"leader" of the Comite des sans emploi: "it's leader, Alexandre Popovic,
>has become a frequent guest in Montreal's jails..." Anyone familiar with
>community groups and radical activism should know that our activism
>develops our ability to take initiatives and function more autonomously.
>The alternative weekly press covered the action more thoughtfully, however
>they were going to press late on Wednesday, so the coverage was spotty. In
>Hour, Carl Wilson described the event as "elegantly performed -smooth,
>almost giddy- until police arrived. the "self-service squad" was in and out
>of the dining room in minutes..." A second piece, more op/ed, was written
>by me in the Mirror.
>The respected French daily Le Devoir focused on the police seizure of video
>footage from a Montreal TV station, saying this is a violation of
>journalists' freedom. A call-in radio show midday Thursday discussed the
>action for an hour. The callers were on the whole either sharply divided,
>(with perhaps a small majority sympathetic to the means undertaken) or they
>were torn in their feelings. In this sense, the action has been successful
>in getting large segments of the population to think about poverty issues
>more fundamentally, and it also brought ideological and class differences
>closer to the surface. Undoubtedly, such a brief awakening of a potential
>citizen-impulse and conscience will be quickly lulled back to sleep with
>the larger current of consumer and media noise and dross.
>If there is one thing that is clear for most of us, it is our determination
>to continue our struggle. This action has once more helped galvanize the
>radical and anarchist community, and even though we are materially not
>rich, we form part of a network of talented individuals. Hunger is easy to
>politicize, and attacks on our hard-won social services will not go
>unchallenged. The privatization of social services would not be happening
>if they were really controlled and run by citizens in their communities.
>In the months ahead we will undergo more trials, and there will be more
>public debate and action. We would like to know of similar types of actions
>in other cities. The fight continues. Sack the rich!


--- Internet Message Header Follows --- Received: from comback.login.net (comback.login.qc.ca []) by comsoon.login.net (8.6.12/8.6.5) with ESMTP id OAA26427; Sun, 7 Dec 1997 14:58:11 -0500 Received: from nothingness.org (tristan.nothingness.org []) by comback.login.net (8.6.12/8.6.5) with ESMTP id OAA03167; Sun, 7 Dec 1997 14:55:27 -0500 Received: from lists.nothingness.org ( by nothingness.org with SMTP (Eudora Internet Mail Server 2.0); Sun, 7 Dec 1997 14:54:31 -0500 Date: Sun, 7 Dec 1997 14:52:36 -0500 (EST) Message-Id: <199712071952.OAA24047@uqam.ca> From: m205526@er.uqam.ca Subject: texte en anglais sur les suites de la manif contre la faim To: reseau@lists.nothingness.org Mime-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii" Precedence: Bulk Reply-To: reseau@lists.nothingness.org Errors-To: reseau@lists.nothingness.org

****** A-Infos News Service ***** News about and of interest to anarchists

Subscribe -> email MAJORDOMO@TAO.CA with the message SUBSCRIBE A-INFOS Info -> http://www.tao.ca/ainfos/ Reproduce -> please include this section