Undercover Cops Infiltrate Montreal Night Protest
Nine Arrests, One Protester Hospitalized, and Alleged Gun Drawn by Police
At least four undercover police officers infiltrated a protest against austerity measures and state violence on Friday night in downtown Montreal, which resulted in around nine arrests, according to Montreal police.
The march began around 8:30 p.m., after approximately 100 people gathered at Place Émilie-Gamelin.
One Concordia student, Katie Nelson, was hospitalized. She said an officer attacked her from behind. A Montreal police spokesperson couldn’t confirm the reasons for the arrests or injuries. He said officers dressed in “civilian clothes” were present, and that this is a “method” their department sometimes employ.
Jeremy Gauthier said he witnessed the incident involving Nelson. An undercover cop pushed Nelson to the ground after she confronted him about his identity, according to Gauthier.
The alleged assault was followed by a kettle—the act of officers circling protesters to confine them—at the corner of Logan St. and Lartigue Ave, he added.
Both Nelson and Zachary Savard, another protester, said one of the undercover officers pulled a gun out at one point. The Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal spokesperson couldn’t confirm this.
Savard said the incident occurred on de Maisonneuve Blvd. after he and a few others asked whether members of their group were disguised officers.
“As we came to them, they just took a gun out, and said move,” Savard said.
Video by Matt D’Amours
An officer was assaulted, according to the SPVM spokesperson.
Toward the end of the demo, remnants of demonstrators were seen shouting at four men in street clothes. These men—who were undercover officers—acted evasively, and when asked whether they were police, one replied no. When asked if he was there for the protest, the man said yes.
Tensions quickly escalated as two of the plainclothes officers arrested a protester. They dragged him to a parking lot behind Ste. Catherine St. and Berri St. Members of the media, including The Link, followed, but were chased away by one undercover cop.
The cop shoved one man face first into the ground and pushed an editor from The Link as well, screaming and chasing away those nearby.
The demonstration mainly marched through the southeast corridor of downtown Montreal. Earlier in the night protesters shot firecrackers in the direction of riot police on Ste. Catherine St., which led to retaliation with tear gas.
The scenes resembled a shootout. Riot police chased and dispersed protesters onto different streets and alleyways.
Kevin Moore said he just moved to Montreal from Ontario a few weeks ago. As a local resident, he said he heard the commotion and decided to film what was happening. An officer in riot gear was seen threatening Moore with arrest for “loitering.”
“I’m running along, and the cops come behind and bash me with their shield,” he said, adding that another cop “smashed” him in the arm.
“Obviously, what this protest is about is exactly what the police are doing right now,” Moore continued.
Flash bang grenades and tear gas are military weapons used to quell popular demonstrations, said activist Stefan Christoff in an interview minutes before the march began. As a regular attendee of protests, he said the militarized police force distracts from the issues being voiced at demonstrations.
Christoff came out Friday night to protest austerity budget cuts implemented by the Liberal-majority Quebec government in recent years.
“In order to challenge those cuts from the government, I think that autonomous demonstrations are really essential and important,” he said. “We’ve seen major labour unions take action—which is good—but at the same time, we need to see community-based response.”