June 10, Sunday, Metro profiling at the Grand Prix
The Grand Prix racing event kicked off Sunday morning. I entered the metro around 10:15am with Nicolas Quiazua, editor of McGill University’s Le Délit newspaper. Our bags were searched, and we were told that no media was allowed to go onto the metro that day — so we entered as civilians. When I asked allowed “Is that even legal?,” someone behind us responded, “Everything is legal under law 78!”
At the entrance to the event, the profiling was significantly more intense. Anyone with a red square (sign of solidarity with the student movement), or anyone suspicious looking (young) was searched and many were told to leave.
The SPVM made thirty preventative arrests under Article 31 of St Helen’s Criminal Code, detaining many without explanation.
Quiazua (below) was arrested for conducting an interview, subjected to a non-consensual search, and was released an hour later being told he will likely be sent a ticket (a common repercussion for protest arrests) despite no formal charge. Quiazua’s full account of the incident which was shared widely (I recommend google translate).
Around 11am, an officer decided I was not there to purchase a ticket and escorted me out after searching me. By the time I left, there were police lining the walls and a K9 unit sniffing out activists.
Police filled each metro car, and I was personally escorted out of the metro station. When I asked if I could get back on the metro to go to another stop closer to home, I was told I had to walk or take a cab.
In addition to the major demos, there were many autonomous actions and meetings relating to the student strike — as there are every day in Montreal. I attended the first neighborhood assembly of Côte-des-Neiges, a diverse community in northwest Montreal. These assemblies, happening all around the city, are devising creative ways to protest the government, demonstrate solidarity, and provide services for their neighborhoods.
The evening casserole left Berri-UQAM around 8:45, led by a woman in a wheelchair flanked by two flag-bearers. Given the morning’s events, some protesters carried signs about profiling — but as usual, the march’s song still (initially) rang with solidarity and joy.
Just before 9:30pm, the protesters chanted outside of a building hosting a ritzy dinner party as suited men and women stared down at the boisterous streets below.
Around 10:30, several protesters smashed several windows of a Banque Nacional branch, which prompted police to fire three smoke grenades. A middle-aged couple was sitting in a park where a smoke grenade was fired. A police officer them to move, and the three got into a screaming match in which the cop called the woman “a bitch.”
By 10:40pm, protesters reassembled at Phillips Square. The police blocked off the adjacent Saint Catherine street, and made a few arrests. The area was full of civilians, and the police presence was uncomfortable if not inflammatory, causing widespread jeering at the ubiquitous uniforms.