Well, it’s not the kind of video that will warm your heart on such a cold day, but it may just make your blood boil. With the windchill, it’s currently -40 degrees in Montreal, but that didn’t stop SPVM officer Gauthier from threatening to tie a homeless man to a poll outside for an hour.

In this video, originally shared on Facebook by Adis Simidzija, we don’t get the beginning of the altercation, but we do hear Gauthier saying that the man, clearly not well clothed for the weather, was being aggressive. Then we get the threat, that if he doesn’t stop, Gauthier will tie him to a poll outside for an hour.

Regardless of what the man was doing (except killing someone, which he clearly wasn’t), threatening to tie someone up outside in this weather is akin to threatening to beat him up or shoot him. It is an inexcusable threat of cruel violence by this officer.

See for yourself:

Earlier this evening, Montreal police took down and destroyed a tipi that activists had set up as part of the Idle No More Global Day of Action. According to witnesses, police did not attempt any negotiations and moved into the camp, pushing aside a group of Aboriginal women who had surrounded the tipi.

“It was one of the most random and arbitrary attacks on an extremely peaceful event that I have seen,” said protester Katie Nelson, “nevermind disrespectful and extremely insensitive to First Nations.”

In the following audio clip recorded by Nelson, SPVM officer Arruda claims that they are afraid the event would turn into another Occupy Montreal and asks “do you think the City of Montreal cares…” without finishing his question.

While the irony of equating native protesters to occupiers when non-Aboriginals are in fact the ones that have been doing the occupying for centuries seems lost on Arruda, the question he never finished is one we should be asking. Does the city or moreover the people in it care about the First Nations and how the police behave at demonstrations? We can only hope so.

Give it a listen:

* Photo by Katie Nelson via Twitter

Katie Nelson didn’t come to Montreal in May 2012 to defend the rights of protesters by setting legal precedent. But the solidarity action that brought her here was designed to help student protesters deal with police abuses in a different way.

“They had stopped selling Maalox in Montreal which is the treatment for pepper spray and teargass,” the Alberta-born activist recounted, “Victoriaville had just happened and we booked tickets the next day to come. We couldn’t do any medical treatment, so we bought a whole bunch of Maalox and flew over.”

She was only supposed to stay five days. Now, a year and over $6000 in fines later, fines for things like spitting on the street, swearing and ashing her cigarette, she is suing the city and the SPVM, with the help of Julius Grey who is working pro-bono, for political profiling.

Katie Nelson 3The harassment started shortly after she, along with fellow activists, started a Facebook group to crowdsource evidence of police abuses so complaints couldn’t be dismissed. They looked for photos, badge numbers and videos and they got plenty.

“Once it picked up popular movement every night and people started seeing us filming everything,” she observed, “then it became everyone doing it so at no point would you see that riot cops weren’t surrounded by fifty cellphones.”

Police then started referring to Nelson as “Miss Alberta” until they gave her a ticket and got her name. Soon, they were biking by her at protests saying “allo Katie” and fining her indiscriminately. They even fined someone who looked like her for spitting on the ground at a protest outside of City Hall which Nelson had already left and referred to the other woman as Katie before discovering that it was someone else.

You may have seen Nelson’s story on CTV, Global, The Gazette, the Journal de Montreal or even Sun News. If you did and read the comments, you’d know that while some prominent people on the left and right of the political spectrum who were both for and against last year’s student strike now support her case out of principle, Nelson still has her detractors who seem concerned with her employment status above all else.

“A lot of people think we don’t have jobs,” she commented on the commentators, “I have a job and I’m a student. I work at a school and I go to school.”

katie nelson 2

Nelson is studying Philosophy at Concordia this fall. She isn’t taking Political Science. Nelson is an anarchist who feels that the solution to our problem lies outside of the political system and the state.

Some, both right wingers and even a few fellow anarchists, have taken issue with someone opposed to the state using one of its tools. Nelson doesn’t think this is a problem, but rather an opportunity.

“I think that it catches people by surprise because we really rail against the justice system,” she argued, “I really disagree with how corrupt our court system is, but I think if we lose it’s a win for us because we can show that we brought all this evidence forward and the judge still declined it and if we win it shows that an anarchist can successfully use the justice system as a tool.”

Nelson doesn’t think that a victory would vindicate the system. Rather, she feels others could look to the steps she took, such as using the media to put pressure on the courts, as a way to deal with injustice under an already unjust system.

“Not necessarily does it say that the justice system is correct,” she said, “it says that political profiling is wrong. I see it as a medium for a message right now.”

If she does win, she doesn’t have any allusions that the police will behave any differently. She does think, though, that by setting a precedent, police won’t easily be able to get away with abuses in the long run.

“We’re going to be treated the exact same way,” she predicted, “we’re going to get beat up, people are going to be detained, it’s all going to continue to happen. I don’t expect that to change whatsoever, what I expect to change is police accountability.”

* photos by Valeria Bismar

UPDATE: Katie is currently fighting her various fines individually in court before her suit against the city and the SPVM begins. Updates are available on her blog maroisandme and you can help offset her legal fees and make a statement about the SPVM and political profiling through her GoFundMe Campaign.

Some cops think they’re above the laws they are charged with enforcing—that’s nothing new. But now it looks like the Montreal Police force (SPVM) thinks it’s above the unwritten laws of celebrity and fame.

Warhol said that everyone gets 15 minutes in the spotlight. And Stéfanie Trudeau, better known as Constable 728, used those up well before the Maple Spring went on its summer break. So why did she turn up again in the news mid-October?

Because the SPVM let her. They let a cop who got caught on video unloading pepper spray for no reason on peaceful protesters twice keep her job.

Despite the video spreading (over 600 000 views for a Quebec-centered story is local viral), they didn’t stick her behind a desk. They kept her in the field, patrolling the Plateau.

You’d think, at the very least, they would re-assign a cop, who clearly had issues with protesters, to a beat where there weren’t so many red squares among the citizens she was charged with protecting. With a whole island, that includes suburbs, quiet affluent neighbourhoods and working class areas where everyone is too busy working to protest, they threw her in with the artists and political activists.

Are the SPVM brass really surprised that she put some guy in a chokehold in his own house for merely holding the door open for a friend who happened to have an open beer? Are they really surprised that her report to her superior contained references to artists and red squares living upstairs whom she referred to as guitar picking rats?

They can’t be. But they will try and seem like they’re dealing with it. She’s been suspended. “Charges” against the dude she put in a chokehold and others there that night have now been dropped.

That’s it, the one bad apple in the force has been dealt with. All the abuses the force is accused of—the kettling, declaring protests illegal without any violence coming from the protesters, attacking student media—is now dealt with. It was 728’s fault and now she’s gone…we good now?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that the cops wanted something like this to happen and helped it along with bad decisions. I’m only implying it.

Remember the UC Davis security guard who became famous as the pepper spray cop? He spawned many a meme but did you ever hear of him doing anything since? No, because they got rid of him. Yes, 728’s fame came in the middle of a much bigger event, the Maple Spring, but the pepper spray cop hit his stride during Occupy, and he’s gone.

Yes, the Montreal Police Brotherhood is a powerful organization notorious for protecting its own, but the SPVM brass are dealing with 728 now regardless of what the union has to say—so it stands to reason they could have prevented what happened last week, too. Instead the SPVM chose not to, they chose to put her back in a place where she could repeat.

They risked increasing her 15 minutes and created circumstances where that outcome was more of a likelihood than a possibility. I wonder what they’ll try when her time in the spotlight is finally up.

* Images: la-rabia-del-pueblo.tumblr.com, tagtele.com