Sunday, May 04, 2008

The following is a translation of a public statement by the Liaison Committee of the Autonomous and Revolutionary Mayday Demonstration. It concerns the events on May 1, when the police attacked demonstrators in downtown Montréal. The French original is on the Montréal platformist site La Commune.

Communique of the liaison committee of the independent and revolutionary demonstration of May 1
Here is a press release of the liaison committee of the independent and revolutionary demonstration of 1 May. (Montreal, May 2 2008) In an intervention as brutal as it was unjustified, police in Montreal last night attacked the anticapitalist demonstration of May 1, International Workers Day. Organised at the initiative of twenty social , community and political groups (see list below), the event brought together about 800 people in the district of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve - one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Canada, where exploitation is experienced at its worst.
Throughout the day, Place Valois at the corner Ontario and Valois, was animated by activists of the committee BAILS, who denounced the gentrification of the neighborhood, rent increases and increasingly difficult conditions facing the people of neighbourhood. Towards 17h(5:00 pm-Molly), the Plaza has been prepared for a community meal, activity and a few speeches. The atmosphere was a celebratory mood, with the presence of many people in the neighborhood, workers of all ages, whole families with their children. The contrast was striking between the atmosphere and the already very aggressive presence of the Police Service of the city of Montreal (SPVM), which seemed to be already looking for a pretext to ban the event, at least two senior officers of the SPVM were already present with their megaphone, ready to declare it was an "illegal assembly", while nothing illegal was happening and the participants wanted only to exercise the right to demonstrate, officially recognized by Canadian law.
Around 18:30(6:30pm-Molly), the demonstration began to march on Ontario Street heading West. The demonstration was animated, the crowd shouted slogans and many onlookers were approached to join and learn about the rationale behind the event.
Suddenly, two people notoriously known in the district as neo-Nazi activists held, disguised with all their gear, occurred at an intersection detour to taunt the demonstrators, in what appeared to be a real provocation. Rapidly, vigilant demonstrators approached them to make them understand that their presence was at least inappropriate and it was probably better for them to move away quickly. A dozen bicycle patrol SPVM were present alongside the two provocateurs when they were pointed out and they did nothing to separate the demonstrators.
After this incident, it took only a few minutes for hordes of the police anti-riot squad to come from all directions and start abruptly and without warning beating demonstrators with batons and using pepper spray. Recall that the crowd included many families, children and the elderly, which the SPVM officers attending the gathering had themselves seen. The demonstrators then tried to regroup to defend the gathering. A number managed to continue the event on surrounding streets and to go to the Papineau metro station, where the demonstration ended.
The liaison committee of the anticapitalist May 1 event vigorously denounces this new blunder of the SPVM and the attack on democratic freedoms . We wish to particularly refute the pretense of the SPVM who claim they intervened because "fights broke out between demonstrators." The truth is that there never was any "fight" inside the event. On the contrary, the atmosphere was especially festive and in solidarity in the spirit of May 1st. As we reported, the incident that occurred was the result of two provocateurs totally unrelated to the event. That the police have preferred to use this incident to attack and disperse a legitimate demonstration rather than simply neutralize these provocateurs says a lot about the fact that their plan was made in advance: for them, anticapitalist demonstrations have no right to exist in the city and it is their right to decide whether the political orientation of a particular event is to be what they are willing to hear. Obviously, the proponents of the state police who run the SPVM are more concerned to "neutralize" the anti capitalists than to deal with neo-Nazis who sow trouble in our neighbourhoods.
We also denounce the fact that the police have conducted at least three arrests, one of those arrested will appear this afternoon (Friday) to respond to accusations whose content we have not yet known. We demand his complete and immediate release .
Despite the illegal, unjustified and brutal intervention of the SPVM, the anticapitalist May 1 demonstration 1 May will be a great success. The enthusiasm of some 800 participants has made it one of the largest gatherings of anticapitalists in last five years in Montreal. Contrary to the will of the SPVM, there will be other anticapitalist events in the weeks and months ahead. For the anticapitalist activists will join them all those who defend the right to demonstrate, democratic freedoms and who refuse to live in a state where the cops make their own law.
Meanwhile, we appeal to your solidarity. Please send all information pertaining to the SPVM intervention , arrests, people with injuries (including photos and videos):

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