Montreal citizens were invited to gather near police headquarters to talk about police brutality yesterday – May 7, 2014. The event was organized by one of Quebec’s largest and more militant student federations, ASSE, and the Coalition Opposed to Police Brutality (COBP).
Roughly 100 supporters came out to hear victims of police brutality share their stories over a megaphone. Listening also were the hundreds of Montreal police (SPVM) in riot gear surrounding the event. The gathering was called specifically following the events that occurred at the April 3rd 2014 protest against austerity measures also organized by ASSE.
Robert Fransham, 71 years old was among the many people that were brutalized by Montreal police that day. Still in crutches, he spoke yesterday at the event, explaining how police violently knocked him down, which led him to spend 2 full weeks in the hospital. He suffered a concussion, a hematoma in the left leg, received 6 stitches on the head and another 6 on the leg among other complications. He has filed a complaint with police; “I think this particular officer should perhaps be charged with assault.” Fransham told CUTV in his interview while still in hospital.
But stories like this one are not uncommon in Montreal. The use of the controversial municipal by-law P6 alone has been challenged by both the Quebec Bar Association and the Canadian Association of Civil Liberties as it may counter the Canadian Constitution and the Quebec Charter.
On Mayday 2014 the march was declared illegal before it took to the streets because the group had not provided police with an itinerary. Under the 2012 amendment of the municipal P6 by-law any group wishing to gather must follow strict rules or risk arrest. Police surrounded protesters in kettles, detained them, and gave them $647 tickets upon their release. This year Montreal was the city with the second largest number of arrests for May 1st protests around the world. A COBP organizer also spoke at the event yesterday about how she had been attacked without warning at the end of the protest on Mayday, which was caught on tape by CUTV.
She spoke of how she had been hospitalized after police tackled her to the ground, tearing her neck muscles, causing a whiplash injury and breaking her right thumb. Like Fransham, she is pursuing the police for their actions and had this to say, “We can’t give up everyone, we have to keep going down into the streets,” before unveiling the surprise action that was to follow the speeches. The COBP announced that 200 stamped envelopes were to be distributed for people wishing to file a police complaint about any police brutality they have experienced or witnessed. Many of the people gathered started to do so which seemed to make the police uncomfortable as they looked on. Nearing the end of the event, 2 people were violently arrested. One received a ticket for $101 for littering. The other was a member of the Independent Media who police said was “filming too close”. Both arrests were caught on tape by 99Media.
Both individuals were released shortly after.