Police Brutality Protest Quickly Shut Down

Nearly 300 Detained, Five Arrested

Nearly 300 protesters were detained at this year’s anti-police brutality march. Photo Shaun Michaud
Nearly 300 protesters were detained at this year’s anti-police brutality march. Photo Erin Sparks
Nearly 300 protesters were detained at this year’s anti-police brutality march. Photo Erin Sparks

Montreal police arrested five protesters and detained another 288 under municipal bylaw P-6 at the 18th annual demonstration against police brutality on Saturday, according to police spokesperson Jean-Pierre Brabant.

The demonstration, organized by the Collective Opposed to Police Brutality (COBP) as part of the International Day Against Police Brutality, was almost immediately broken up by Service de police de la Ville de Montréal officers clad in riot gear.

“It’s without great surprise but with an enormous amount of rage and indignation that the COBP denounces the mass arrests that ended the 18th demonstration against police brutality only minutes after it started,” reads a statement on the COBP’s website.

The demonstration usually takes place in downtown Montreal, but this year protesters met outside the Jean-Talon metro station, where, in January, an SPVM officer was caught on video threatening to tie a homeless man dressed in summer clothes to a pole.

After a short speech by an organizer, police declared over loudspeakers that the protest was illegal under bylaw P-6 and ordered the crowd to disperse or risk being charged under the bylaw. Protesters then tried to move west on Jean-Talon St. when a line of riot police officers was immediately deployed and blocked their path.

The crowd subsequently moved south on Châteaubriand Ave., where most of the detained protesters were kettled—circled by riot police without the ability to disperse.

According to The Link staff member Alejandra Melian-Morse, speaking by phone from the kettle, members of the police force were pointing rubber bullet guns down at protesters from surrounding balconies.
Melian-Morse, who received a $600 ticket, was at the protest to conduct
research for an ethnographic anthropological study on protest culture and power relationships between police and protesters.

“I noticed that the vibe of the protest seemed to almost be better in the kettle than it had been before,” she said. “Maybe it was because people had been really anticipating something bad happening beforehand so then when it happened they were like, ‘Well, here we are again.’

“It actually feels kind of good to be there, still in solidarity with people. It just kind of represents what it is that [people] are fighting against,” she continued.

According to Concordia biology student Aneil Prasad, the protest wasn’t without some physical confrontations between protesters and police.

“I witnessed one guy who tried to get past the kettle who was pretty heavily beaten by a policeman with his shield just as he was trying to pass,” he said.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association denounced kettling as unconstitutional following the 2010 G20 Summit in Toronto. Similarly, the British High Court of Justice ruled in 2011 that Metropolitan police broke the law when they enforced the same tactic at the 2009 G20 Summit in London.

Three people were arrested for assault of a police officer with a weapon and two were arrested for obstruction of a police officer at Saturday’s demonstration, according to the SPVM.