Montreal Report

A large majority of people, activists I should say though I don’t think I should give any more details at this time, were convened PEACEFULLY at an area we called “the green zone” on St. Laurent street in Montreal Québec which is 15 blocks AWAY from the anti-WTO demonstrations, sitting on a plot of gravel that we were explicitly given permission to occupy. A substantial amount of us were regrouping after dispersing from the earlier anti-WTO protest, which we left at around 9 o’clock a.m.


A large group of us, I would say 300 or 400 people, were simply standing or sitting in this area, some of us trying to find food, others planning what to do next, when we heard from others who were observing the area that the cops were coming and that we should consider leaving. About 75% of us ran off at that time, until many of us realized that there was no reason for us to leave and that we had a right to be where we were.


So most of us returned to the green zone to continue peacefully sitting. About 30 minutes later we tried to have a meeting and decide whether to disperse again or to begin marching again, most of us decided to disperse and so that was what we were all about to do. Around that time, a few people on bikes came up the hill to our area to inform us that the cops were assembling nearby and that something might happen.


AT THAT TIME we began dispersing and finding ways to get away, during that time, during our actual DISPERSAL, which happened WITHOUT warning from the police, we ran into our blockades of cops. Within 2 minutes, walls of police trucks and lines of riot cops replaced all means of escaping. Shortly after, with their oh-so-intimidating tactics, the riot cops starting banging on their shields in unison, right before rushing us and corralling us into a tightly confined circle. This was at around 10 a.m. It goes without saying that many of us were pushed violently by the riot cops into our obedient little circle – I, for one was hit in the back of the head by one of their shields – though we still maintained our solidarity.


We broke out into many different ‘solidarity’ chants and singing ‘we all live in a military state’, and it was then around 10:21 that the cops announced in both French and English that we were all under arrest for ‘participating in a riot’, NOT ‘unlawful assembly’. While being perpetually shoved into a smaller circle, I must comment on the great spirits we all had. Everyone was sharing everything they had, there was food and water bottles and packs of cigarettes being passed around the group all the while having the eyes of those fascist cops staring us down, trying to intimidate us. Many of us would stare back, yell and harass – most cops couldn’t keep our gazes.


Around 10:45 we began to get arrested with plastic ties containing us and put into either paddy wagons or police buses. We only got to briefly speak to a lawyer on our way to our wagons/buses who asked us if we were hurt and basically told us that we have ‘the right not to say anything but your name, address and date of birth’. We were then searched and basically fondled by morons in plastic gloves warning us that ‘we will probably be touched in places we don’t want to be’. They took down our name and address on two different sheets and briefly put in front of a camera all the while being asked idiotic questions, or at least I was, for example as to whether I lived on the streets or not and why I had so many flyers and papers on me. (To maintain the concrete facts at this point in our adventure, I will continue only with what I experienced) I was then led onto the bus into a small barred space with two tiny benches which they shoved 4 females into. Only a few of the windows were opened a crack and before we left, one of the cops even closed some of the windows.


When we arrived at the station, being in the barred space closest to the front, I waited in that hot, stuffy bus for about half an hour. Some of the other people on my bus didn’t get off of it for 6 hours. I heard that people on other buses and wagons were on for up to 8 hours. I was led into the garage area to be searched and fondled once again. I had to take out all of my piercings, which was nothing compared to the dozens of people who were robbed of their glasses, many of which could hardly see at all without them and who suffered many migraines in jail without them, without the cops giving a damn. After having everything but my clothing and shoes (without laces of course) taken away from me, I was then led into another room to be processed into the computer. These cops were bloody MORONS. Most of them weren’t even sure of the charge against us. I was being spoken to in English, though I understood their French and I overheard their mockery, their idiocy, and their ignorance of what was actually going on. Many others were blatantly mocked and given a really hard time and so many of us were treated like idiots, expecting to so willingly give any information they were asked for. I was never asked by the cops if I was hurt or not, nor was I asked whether I had any medication I needed to take -which I did, except it wasn’t life-threatening- I was just asked my name and address and if I took any drugs or drank any alcohol that morning, whether I had any tattoos or scars and various other irritating questions to which I snarled back half-answers.


Most of us were then asked whether we wanted to speak to a state-appointed lawyer or to talk to one from the legal collective (a group of people in direct contact with lawyers telling us our rights and all we needed to know, who also contacted our families and such for us, which I would like to thank very much), so of course we all chose the legal collective. Many of us, the ones who got off the buses hours later, were not even allowed to talk to a lawyer first and were just shoved into a cell.


Those who were shoved into cells earlier on in the day were given meat sandwiches, and since most of us were either vegetarian or vegan, we obviously didn’t eat. In my cell, which consisted of two small cells and a small hallway, eventually held 23 females, who were denied blankets and vegetarian alternatives until we made a major issue out of it. A lot of the prisoners in the other cells and other jails were not even given anything but meat sandwiches, despite their mass amounts of vegetarians and vegans. This is mandatory in Québec, at least, that prisoners be given food they can actually eat. Many of us did not eat at all for the entire duration of being imprisoned, some of us literally could not because of various allergies.


Later that night our lawyer, which represented all of the mass arrested, came to our cell and spoke to us about what was happening and what our rights were and that the out-of-towners would probably be there overnight. A few hours later the interrogations began and our experiences varied dramatically. Some of us were such victims of attempted persuasion by the detectives to give our locations at the time of the “riot” (which I must state only consisted of the broken windows of a handful of places and various political graffiti), and questioned in such a way as to make anyone be tricked into thinking that any of them were even remotely on our side. Some people were really shaken up by the detectives, leaving the interrogations feeling violated and obviously insulted (like we all did). My experience was luckily not bad at all, which I hope was due to my positively infuriated demeanor, I was only asked my name, address, date of birth, where I went to school, if I was staying at a hotel, and why I came to Montreal from Toronto, to which I proudly replied, “To voice my opinion which I am legally allowed to do”. When I was told the charge was ‘unlawful assembly’ I angrily debated with the detective as to the definition and that they had no right to arrest people who were peacefully sitting on private property permitted to them, and that they cannot claim they gave a dispersal warning because 340 people did NOT hear a damn thing.


Many of those from Montreal were let out that night, while all of us from out of town were there overnight and told that we would see a judge at 10:30 the next morning (which our families and everyone outside were told would be the case) – which did NOT happen. At around 7 a.m. Tuesday my cell was put on a paddy wagon and sent to a different jail to await the judge. About 50 females were put into one big cell where we were later offered meat sandwiches and told by the rudest cop who purposely took off his nametag and refused to tell us his name or number, and who stated that they had no alternatives to give us. A few minutes later some cops came in with cheese sandwiches. This in no way earns our guards any positive feelings because they refused the sick any medical attention. Some of us were getting sick, and one female in my cell had a urinary tract infection and already had medical problems and was rudely refused to see a doctor under grounds that it ‘wasn’t life-threatening’.


In the afternoon, females were led off two by two to “see a lawyer”, which did not happen, and were instead sent to a smaller cell with some of the general population of prisoners (which our families and everyone outside were told would not happen). In my case, I was handcuffed to another female and led to a smaller cell with some of the general population and left there for over 4 hours whereas all of the other mass arrested who entered were taken out of within 15 minutes – it turns out the cops messed up with our information. We were later sent to see the judge where we were quickly told of our bail conditions and our $200 bail, during which no one had time to protest that amount or to state that they were not capable of paying. It turns out, very fortunately, that our protesting comrades outside the jail were collecting money to sponsor everyone’s bail. Everyone’s bail conditions were the same (although there were some discrepancies between the French and English versions), this is it verbatim; Reside at _____; Advise the court, in writing 48 hours before any change of address; Keep the peace and have a good conduct; Until July 31st inclusively, you are not to be found in the following perimeter: Sherbrooke to the North, St. Jacques to the South, Bleury to the East, east side of Guy to the West; You shall not protest on any private property without the express permission of the owner; You shall not protest on any public land or property unless the protestation should be legal and peaceful; Should you be present at any protestation that becomes unlegal or unpeaceful, you shall leave that protestation immediately; You shall abstain from wearing a mark or hiding your face by any means while protesting; You are prohibited to possess any weapons or imitation of weapons*; Be present at court when required. *In the French version it said ‘prohibited to possess any firearms’.


 After seeing the judge we were then sent back to our original large cell where we had to wait for quite a while longer. They started letting those out who were able to pay their bail in cash much sooner, yet when we were released to sign our bail conditions we were NOT allowed to even read what we were signing and anyone who tried was sent back to the cell. Fortunately earlier on, there was a copy of what we had to sign circulated around our cell, thanks to those who refused to sign it without reading it. When we were signing our bail conditions we also had to sign a form stating we received all of our belongings before we actually got them back. Fortunately I received everything back considering I had nothing of value or anything of incriminating value against others on me. Unfortunately, many others had much stolen from them by the police, ranging from their cell phones, their wallets, their goggles or other protection, to their copies of ‘direct action’ and ‘the new socialist’ (many local NSG members were arrested), some even had their political patches stolen, which is quite funny actually. Those who were robbed made a big deal but of course the cops did nothing about it.


Leaving the prison was great. The amount of protesters demonstrating such prison solidarity was outstanding. Everyone was cheered for when released, everyone was met by someone to make sure they had a way to get home and a place to stay that night, and also lovingly met with vegan food. My bail was sponsored by the Toronto anti-WTO brigade who also subsidized my bus ride home, which I must thank enormously, and who also helped me contact those I needed to. All of the mass arrested got out that night, and now it is time to take some substantial action against the amazing injustice we all have suffered in this so-called ‘civilized democracy’. Everyone must speak out or else who knows what may happen next time we try to voice our opinion in this country; our dissent cannot be silenced.

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