Solidarity against police repression in Montreal: We will not submit to the municipal by-law P-6
With this public declaration, we assert our opposition to by-law P-6: we will continue to demonstrate without negotiating our demo routes with police, and we will systematically challenge all tickets that arise from this by-law.
The past year has been marked by an escalation of police repression against political protesters in Montreal. As our political movements take to the streets in larger numbers, with more frequency and militancy, we are attacked more brutally and arbitrarily than ever, with batons, pepper spray, tear gas, sound grenades, and rubber bullets. Our friends are mass arrested, humiliated, kettled, and in many cases badly injured.
Within this context of police escalation against political protesters, the Montreal police (SPVM) are attempting to normalize another practice: arresting demonstrators before they can even begin to demonstrate, or even gather to demonstrate. Three times within one week – March 15 on the International Day Against Police Brutality; March 18 before a planned night demo; and March 22 on the anniversary of student strike protests – the Montreal police stopped demonstrations before they could begin by surrounding protesters with riot police and arresting them en masse, in the hundreds. One clear goal of the police tactic is to scare demonstrators, and potential demonstrators, from taking to the streets
The SPVM can’t be bothered to make criminal charges. Instead, they use municipal by-law “P-6” which makes demonstrations that don’t provide an advance itinerary to the police to be a contravention of the by-law. A municipal by-law offense is not a criminal charge, it’s the equivalent of a parking ticket. However, the P-6 offence was raised to more than $500 ($637 with fees) for a first offence last May in the context of the student strike movement.
The P-6 by-law prohibits “obstructing the movement, pace or presence” of citizens who are also using public space at the same time. How can we take the streets without obstructing vehicular or pedestrian traffic? Moreover, the P-6 by-law demands not only communicating demo routes in advance, but also the approval of our routes by the police. This is the equivalent of giving the police the arbitrary power to refuse our routes if they judge them to be too disruptive, and also to prevent marching to locations that have been chosen as political “targets.”
We refuse to negotiate with the police our freedom of expression, our right to demonstrate and our right to disrupt the existing social, political and economic order that we consider profoundly unjust and illegitimate.
Part of the response is in our hands, as part of grassroots, autonomous community organizations. There is no obligation to provide the police our demo routes, and the Montreal police in particular, who abuse their authority with impunity, don’t deserve any accountability from us. Instead, we’re accountable to each other, and the social movements we come from. We always retain the right to protest spontaneously, and with demo routes that reflects our needs and demands.
In the face of police repression, let’s take back the streets with our weapons of solidarity and support.
Declaration from Anticapitalist Convergence Montreal signed by Maille à part, see full post on their site here