Around 100 demonstrators gathered on March 15, at the intersection of Berri and Ontario streets, where Alain Magloire, a man who was homeless and mentally ill, was shot and killed by a member of the SPVM in February 2014. The demonstrators gathered to participate in the 19th annual anti-police brutality march, organized by the Collective Opposed to Police Brutality (COBP).
As announced on the Collective’s website, the demonstration was set to start at 3 p.m., however more than 40 police officers were already at the ready by half past two.
Once the clock hit 3 p.m. SPVM announced that the demonstration was actually legal, given that the location of the demo was disclosed to the police before hand. However, the SPVM also declared that marching would NOT be tolerated, as a clear itinerary was not provided.
Under municipal by-law P-6, groups wishing to organize marches must provide their itinerary to the police at least 24 hours in advance; otherwise the participants risk being fined for up to $638.
Less than ten minutes after the announcement, the demonstrators tried to march westwards on Ontario, but were forced to change their path since the police had already blocked the street. The group then attempted to march north on Berri, at which point – less than 20 minutes after declaring the demo legal – the SPVM announced that the demonstration had become illegal.
Riot police then trapped the demonstrators at the underpass nearby, where they were kettled for the rest of the protest. Two student journalists from Concordia’s The Link were also among those who were kettled. In the meanwhile, two other demos took place, one on the corner of Maisonneuve and Berri, another on St Laurent.
Not including the kettling, a total of 95 people were arrested, 92 of whom were arrested under article 500.1 of the Highway Safety Code, which makes it illegal to occupy the roadway so as to obstruct vehicular traffic. All three of the demos were finished by 5:30 p.m.
If anything, today’s march showed that the police will keep on clamping down on people attempting to live their right to peaceful demonstration. Just think about it for a second. There were more police officers at the anti-police brutality protest than there were demonstrators. Well, we’ll see what the future holds. On March 22, at the same day as Montreal’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, theCollective Opposed to Police Brutality is planning on holding another similar march. Montreal’s mayor Denis Coderre has already declared that he will not tolerate this. We shall see.
Click on the image below to open the gallery. All photography by Cem Ertekin.
Anti-Police Brutality March