Mass arrests, tons of damage, Prince Charles under attack, police under fire for doing way too much or not doing enough. Yes, London was the site of some pretty intense riots last week, which is funny considering they don’t even have a hockey teamâ€¦must be football. No, wait, it’s actually over student tuition hikes, something that means something. Pardon my confusion, but I’m from Montreal and that just seems strange.
Don’t get me wrong, we do get unruly for the right reason every now and then. The Villanueva riots in Montreal North last year are a prime example, as is the annual anti-police brutality march that somehow always manages to end in police brutality year after year (next year, try writing “anti’ bigger on the posters, maybe that will help, just an idea), but overall it’s riots inspired by the Canadiens that we’re known for.
It’s not even for the Habs losing, but getting into the semi-finals or just past the first round. Somehow rioting to celebrate a corporate and state-sponsored team winning has become our version of smashing the state.
Even Toronto has us beat. Breaking windows to break the G20 is at the very least a narrative that makes sense (not getting into the whole undercover cops jumping on cop cars issue here), while our story sounds kinda lame these days.
It didn’t use to be like that, either. Back in the 60s Montreal activists got rowdy for a purpose. Now, not so much. We take to the streets quite a bit for good reasons but only go nuts when Guns n Roses leaves the stage early (my first concert ever, had to throw that in here somewhere) or when the Habs stay long in the playoffs.
We do take to the streets quite a bit in Montreal for good causes and personally, I prefer peaceful protests as the message comes across much clearer. Usually it’s the cops that provoke the violence as in the G20 and recently in London. Activists there have to fight hard to get messages like this one from a fifteen year old student discovering protest for the first time out to the public. Here we have to contend with the notion that we only really care about hockey.
I probably shouldn’t direct these thoughts at activists, as it’s probably not them doing most of the hockey rioting, maybe some anarchists who believe that smashing the symbols of capitalism doesn’t need to be tied to anything and is always a good idea take part, but I digress. Instead I’m speaking to Montrealers as a whole:
Let’s do something, anything, to let the world know that we’re a city that stands up for ourselves and our oppressed neighbours both here and around the word and if things get rough and stuff gets broken, you know, just like in London, that it’s for the right reasons.