Katie Nelson responds to recent comments by SPVM police chief Marc Parent on last year’s student strike. This post originally appeared on her blog maroisandme.wordpress.com and is republished with permission from the author.
Rage is the ruins in which we find the familiarity of refuge, a place where emotion echoes through chambers of memories. A black out of repetition, a cinematic adventure that we give Oscars to. It is the place that most of us live and a place that most of us die.
What must be worse than being demonstrated against by Anarchists is being lobbied against by Government. To fight for the poor, for the oppressed and the weak and then to be called a terrorist by the machine that perpetuates it. What must definitely be worse than all of that is to be the dog taking scraps to carry out the orders.
I used to pretend that it was all just a nightmare, when you’d blow the horn and the grenades would get thrown. When we were being chased down back alleys, running from whatever you hoped to do. The only thing that keeps your chin up is the belt that keeps your helmet on when someone uses a brick on it; and you stumble home, tears filled in your eyes because another colleague hit the ground from a smoke bomb, and the media rubs your ego because your wife stopped, and we are supposed to feel sorry for you. And we’re supposed to see the orders carried out and the job done as remarkable and impressive.
Mr. Parent and anyone like you, the only thing I find impressive is that you managed to survive an entire year of civil unrest without a single death. Because if I were the kid who had his eye come out of his socket because of your cops “keeping their cool” I would stop at nothing to see you suffer for the loss that you created and the innocence you stole.
I remember every night, and I relive it every night. I remember watching vans screaming down empty roads, hitting people with their doors open and I remember seeing cops laughing after they beat her to the ground, motionless. And I remember the feeling of a gun being pointed at me three days out of the week, and I remember the way my gut would drop when I was cornered by a dumpster off St. Catherines by four hungry men carrying badges.
I remember these things because these things made me hate the reality I was in, it made me hate myself and anyone who tried to empathize with me; because there was a way to stop this, and that way was with you – and instead of acknowledging the fucked up shit happening on your watch nightly, you instead glorified the work of these police as admirable and courageous; we must all bruise our knees as we bow to the men who prevented the death of a student during the strike!
The only thing that prevented death was the kids who had to leave their books behind and pick up rocks instead, the ones who stood on the front line taking blow after blow to try and stop an intervention into a contingent of children in strollers and their parents, the ones who came out every night to fight for the basic rights of survival. The only thing that prevented death was the beasts of our hope, and the determination to fight.
Mr. Parent, until you afford yourself the opportunity to pick up a fucking book and learn what we stand and fight for, what we are willing to risk our lives for, you will never understand what it is like to be forced into submission. Your statements are the trigger to the gun that cultivates the terror for thousands of kids, walking around a world of post-traumatic stress disorder and shell shock, questioning themselves and the society that failed them when a baton to their face gave them the political science degree they were fighting for.
So take your guilt down to the library and see if it pays for the card, because we will never forget what happened in Montreal.
* photos by Phyllis Papoulias