May Day Protests Target Migrant Detention Centre Architects
Five Arrests, Multiple Counts of Mischief at Annual March
A crowd of about 200 anti-capitalist protesters threw rocks, launched projectiles, and tried to smash windows at Le Phénix—head office of Lemay, the architectural firm building a migrant detention centre—on St-Jacques St. at the annual May Day protest on Wednesday.
An anti-border banner hung down an overpass at the corner of Hawarden Ave. and Atwater Ave. to fit one of the themes of this year’s May 1 protest.
The SPVM’s preliminary report said five people were arrested “for various offences and criminal acts,” and that “several mischiefs were committed.”
“This May Day, let’s attack the sinister agents of capital, the bloodied hands of slave masters: the border infrastructure, the companies gaining wealth building prisons, the inhuman deportation machine,” said the Coalition opposant la brutalité policière in a press release.
“This May Day, we say fuck borders, prisons, and all who continue to build fences between peoples.”
Three protests took place throughout the day, led by the Industrial Workers of the World, the Parti Révolutionnaire Communiste, and the Convergence des luttes anti-capitalistes at different points.
The CLAC’s contingent met at Cabot Square at around 6:30 p.m. before marching down Atwater. The protest made its way on Greene St. before heading to Le Phénix. As protestors denounced migrant detention centres, they vandalized the building.
“After crossing that fucking border about 60km South of here, people seeking asylum after months or years of homelessness are put in Canadian prisons, conveniently renamed detention centres, to give them a more humane appearance,” said Adeel Hayat of Solidarity Across Borders.
He added that, after being released from these detention centres, “the actual detention begins” as people find themselves without family and friends, isolated in a foreign country with different languages and cultures.
“While looking for meaning […] people gravitate to exploitation through work and the real Canadian culture, which is profit over people, exploit, exploit, exploit,” Hayat said.
Police threw tear gas canisters to disperse protesters, who regrouped at Atwater metro. Police charged at them and released more tear gas.
The PCR held their contingent at Phillips Square near McGill University. Through the rain, fires were seen on Sainte-Catherine St. between Peel St. and Metcalfe St. where firefighters showed up to put them out around 8 p.m.
The IWW peacefully marched through Parc-Extension—which has the highest concentration of ethnic minorities in Montreal—around 3 p.m. Their message was focused on an intersectional feminist approach to class struggles as they say factors like gender, sexuality, race, and faith lead to further marginalization within classes. The IWW also encourages people to unionize their workplaces as they are a member-run union.
May Day, also known as Labour Day, is celebrated all over the world, and commemorates the 1886 Haymarket massacre in Chicago where a confrontation between workers on strike and the police resulted in two workers being shot dead by officers. It is traditionally celebrated by unions.
In the chaos, The Link’s former editor in chief, Miriam Lafontaine, was struck in the face with a protester’s projectile. Journalists from The Link were also harassed by police who said to “move and make it fast or we’ll make you move,” when asking if the protests were over.
“We want an end to this dystopian police state shithole, and we want it to end now,” said Tessa Mascia of the IWW.