Every activist in Montréal was aware that this year, the Police Department (SPVM) would do everything it could to prevent the holding of the annual May First demonstration organized by the Anti-Capitalist Convergence (CLAC). But the determination of the demonstrators succeeded to beat back the watchdogs of the bourgeois order who charged protesters at the beginning of the demo.
From mid-March until May 1st, nearly a thousand people were arrested and given a Statement of Offence for trying to exercise their right to protest in Montréal. Remember that back in 2012, when these provisions were adopted, police said they would use “discernment.” Meeting on 22 and 23 April, the city council narrowly refused to repeal these provisions; council members from notoriously corrupt party of former mayor Gérald Tremblay are the ones who made the difference in the vote.
In the days before May 1st, the CLAC intelligently publicized not only the gathering point of the demo (Place Jacques-Cartier in front of City Hall), but also its point of arrival: the now famous “357c” club. This private club became notorious when the Commission of Inquiry on the Awarding and Management of Public Contracts in the Construction Industry revealed it is regularly attended by a whole bunch of crooked politicians and entrepreneurs. The morning of May 1st, a spokesperson of the CLAC even revealed that the demo would take the most direct route between the two places and it would march in the same direction as traffic.
Supporters of the P-6 by-law, as PQ minister Jean-François Lisée and the Montréal Police Department, used to say that this regulation doesn’t forbid protests in so far as it only requires organizers to communicate their intentions to the police —even at the last minute before it begins. In the case of May First demo, the intentions of the CLAC have been publicly known for weeks —they were even posted on the SPVM website, under the signature of Inspector Alain Simoneau! But this has not prevented the riot police to attack and forbid the demonstration.
The protesters were asked to arrive Place Jacques-Cartier at 6pm sharp. Two groups came from Pointe-Saint-Charles and Centre-Sud neighbourhoods, while single people were arriving right on site. Then, the cops charged the demo before it even started. The objective of the pigs was to disorganize the demo by splitting it in two groups and seizing the head banner and flags the comrades were carrying. Fortunately, the police faced stubborn determination from the protesters, who strongly defended their right to take to the streets with their flags and banners. The cops were clearly not expecting such resistance and they were forced to temporarily retreat.
As planned by the organizers —and contrary to the police will— the demo then took to the streets towards the 357c club. The march was proceeding apace when three blocks from the target, the SPVM again decided to conduct a mass arrest under the P-6 by-law. This shows that the “non-disclosure of the route” has never been anything more than an excuse to ban demonstrations that the police consider illegitimate: this time, the route was known, but still the demo was prohibited. In total, some 447 people were trapped; most of them were transported some 20 kilometers away at the SPVM East Operations Center, where they were handed a $637 ticket. It was only at 3:30 in the morning that the last ones among the arrestees were finally released.
As the CLAC noted in a statement issued a few hours after the brutal attack from the police: “The austerity measures currently enacted by both the federal and provincial governments clearly show that those in power are simply doing the footwork of capitalist interests… In this time of polarized class interests, it isn’t surprising to see governments enact laws that quash popular resistance to their abuses of power and repress anyone that tries to disturb the dominant political and economic order.”
Active with the CLAC’s May First Committee, the Revolutionary Communist Party (PCR-RCP Canada) called for forming a “red contingent” within the demo and “preventing the police from seizing and destroying the red flags and class struggle banners.” Supporters of the Party and of the Revolutionary Workers Movement did their best to beat back the brutal attack from the SPVM and allow the protest to take to the streets.
According to the PCR-RCP Canada, May First provides an opportunity to show the bourgeoisie that “our class is in the process of choosing insubordination; that we are rising and reclaiming the essence of our legitimate struggles —including those powerful ones that will radically change the face of Canada.”
Let’s resist the attacks of the bourgeoisie and continue to fight for people’s power!
It is the responsibility of those who received a Statement of Offence to contest it within 30 days. It may be interesting to know that the validity of P-6 by-law is currently challenged in court by Julien Villeneuve —the man under the popular “Anarchopanda For Free Education” mascot. For more information on how to contest a ticket, go to https://514-289-9995.com