Protesters riot during annual anti-police brutality demonstration

Protestors took to the streets in downtown Montreal on March 15 for the 23rd annual anti-police brutality demonstration. The event was initially peaceful, beginning in the evening with a gathering at Norman Bethune Square. Food Against Fascists provided meals to the crowd and community members took turns delivering speeches highlighting the history of police brutality continuing in Montreal.

Jeremy Thomas, Welding and Fitting student at Laurier Macdonald Vocational Centre, described how intense police surveillance has affected his career. Although he does not believe his situation will change, he came out in support of his fellow residents.

“The police have actually completely destroyed my life,” Thomas said. “I started in Calgary. I was involved with gangs and crime, [and] when that was going on, I had lots of run-ins with the police and justice system. The police became very emotionally attached to me due to the fact that they can’t get me through the justice system. They got me fired from my jobs and constantly bombarded my house with drones, airplanes [and] helicopters.”

From May 2016 to April 2017, the Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) launched a pilot project to evaluate the feasibility of deploying body cameras. 78 patrol members wore the cameras during the project, but the decision to deploy them was rejected by Montreal’s public security committee due to their cost and ineffectiveness. Member of Mouvement Action Justice Robin Edgar claimed that the police’s abusive power extends beyond physical brutality and includes misconduct like false arrests and repression of speech. Edgar believes that body cameras promote better behaviour by police and suggested that officers of the SPVM begin to employ them.

“I think the SPVM has too much influence over politics,” Edgar said. “They have too much power making excuses like, ‘it’s too expensive.’ I do a lot of videoing of police myself and they behave better when they know they are being filmed.”

Event organizer and member of the Industrial Workers of the World Tessa Mascia denounced the SPVM for the shooting of Nicholas Gibbs, an unarmed 23-year-old father from Montreal’s Notre-Dame-de-Grâce neighbourhood, in August 2018. Mascia went on to provide more vivid accusations of how he believes the SPVM have abused their power.

“We have the displeasure today of being surrounded by Montreal’s supposed finest, the SPVM,” Masica said. “Whereas as firefighters have a specific mandate to save people, the state agents of the SPVM do nothing but further tax the already burdened working class with more state fines. They’re the goons of the condo developers when they push out homeless people, and their hands are dirty with the neocolonial genocide of natives in precarious social conditions here on the island [of Montreal] itself.”

Mascia believes that police brutality is a serious problem in Montreal, rife with both physical violence and discriminatory behaviours. She claims that the SPVM targets marginalized groups to reach their ticket quota and she does not believe that policing has any place in today’s society.  

“We need to make policing obsolete, not just by talking about this [issue], but by gathering together and building those better communities [and] those better services,” Mascia said. “There’s absolutely nothing [the police] can do to better train or protect its citizens. The only [solution] is if we as a people dismantle the institution of policing.”

Immediately after the speeches, the group of a few hundred protestors stormed north. They marched down Sherbrooke, setting off fireworks, throwing flares, and chanting ‘No justice, no peace, f*ck the police.” Some individuals began to smash the windows of stores and parked cars, uttering threats and breaking out into fights. The demonstration quickly began to resemble a riot and police were on standby in riot gear.

As a smoke bomb was set off, the SPVM ordered the protestors to disperse due to illegal behaviour that was ‘endangering safety and public order.’ The SPVM has reported on Twitter that two arrests were made for mischief and uttering threats.

 

A previous version of this article originally stated that the demonstration was hosted by the organization It’s Going Down. In fact, It’s Going Down only publicized the event. The Tribune regrets this error.

2 Comments

  1. Jeremy Thomas

    Thank you for taking the time to interview me. Police have gone above and beyond todo everything to destroy my life. their willing to do and say anything to cause me discomfort and anger. everything that come out of their mouths is a complete lie and manipulation to control the public against me. they act as if im some serial predator. ive never been in trouble with the law for anything todo with predatory behavior against women but its something they can feed to the public about me to manipulate them to do their bidding. its out of this world what ive experienced from these callous sociopaths. thieve tried to kill me get me fired from all my jobs they hack my home internet and listen to my girlfriends phone illegally all just to get an edge on what they can do and say to fuck me over. this all started with me emailing them provocatively and since then they have de humminized me and spent millions of tax payers dollars making their lies fly. I cant say police in anyway are good people I haven’t been detained arrested questioned or seen a court house in years but they’ll do everything to continue with this vendetta. everything they say has no truth but they do it in a way that I cant combat it. who wants to help a sexual predator or a racist murder. even though they no theirs nothing to back these claims in anyway they no its the thing that well make people get involved and treat me like shit. everyday I have to deal with it constantly. ive been made out to be some monster and its all made up with in the police force and when I complain they say im crazy. their evil and liars they work hours to claim a check and if they can sit their and make up issues to make them look like their doing something they well. they spend so much time and money on me millions at this point all due to me being a mouth piece and beating all my charges of drugs and weapons. ive tried to move to different citys but the lies have just gotten worse. do I think this well change anything no, but please understand that police are nothing but a front. their uniform is nothing but a mask of induvials who well go to any lengths to protect each other, lie use violence and mislead the public.

  2. Jeremy thomas

    The police have done everything to disrupt any positive changes in my life bombardedi g me with constant police surveillance and spreading hoffic lies to make my life extremely difficult to obtain employment and friendships. They treat me as a sport, it’s like they have no real reason to pursue me anymore so they just make stuff up. Bad stuff that’s complete b.s

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