CSU Condemns Protest Bylaw

Union to Publish Open Letter Against P-6, SPVM Use of Kettling

A police officer stands outside a kettle during the March 22 Day of Action protest. Photo Erin Sparks

The Concordia Student Union voted to publicly condemn police action against protesters and municipal bylaw P-6, which limits the right to demonstrate, at a special council meeting held March 28.

Called by arts and science councillor Benjamin Prunty, the VP Sustainability candidate decried in the motion the “collective censorship” of demonstrators, and the tactic of kettling —forcibly corralling a group of protesters to perform mass arrests.

“They tend to box in the peaceful people,” explained Prunty to council. “Enough is enough. The SPVM have acted far outside of their jurisdiction.”

The union is calling for a public inquiry into police action, the motion passing with none opposed.

City bylaw P-6 was passed during student protests last spring, requiring demonstrators to submit an itinerary to police at least eight hours in advance and prohibiting clothing that covered demonstrators’ faces.

An often-heard line from the police loudspeaker during last year’s protest was that although the demonstration was illegal, it would be allowed to continue as long as no criminal acts were committed.

On March 14, one day before the annual Anti-Police Brutality protest, the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal announced they would be strictly enforcing the bylaw.

Since then, demonstrations have faced swift police intervention.

The March 22 Day of Action was quickly split in two by riot police, and the majority of those present where kettled and ticketed $637 for infraction of the bylaw.

Before passing the motion, council discussed the wording of the letter written by Prunty—some concerned it would fail to change the minds of those supporting the bylaw, written as is.

“It’s our role to take a strong stance,” said councillor Chad Walcott, who was on last year’s CSU executive which took a leading role in mobilizing students against tuition increases.

After some discussion, it was resolved that CSU President Andrew Roberts, VP External and Mobilization Simon-Pierre Lauzon, Prunty and any interested councillors would create a final draft of the letter to be sent to major media and published online.

A silent vigil against police brutality is scheduled for March 29, and the police are demanding a “real” itinerary, after Quebec City resident Sébastien Lambert submitted an unofficial protest route to the police as reported by La Presse.

“I made the itinerary, we’ll see what’s going to happen,” said Lambert in an interview with Le Devoir.