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Montreal police reprimanded by UN: Pig roast

Pig roast

Montreal activists say a United Nations human rights committee report deservedly singles out Montreal police for large-scale arrests of protesters at demonstrations. And city officials and police can stop feigning shock.

"Montreal police are aggrieved when people go out to protest without their permission," says local activist Jaggi Singh. "People don’t need their permission to protest."

The report, released Nov. 2 by the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, notes close to 2,000 protesters have been arrested by Montreal police since 1999, more than in any other Canadian city. For instance, police arrested 243 protesters en masse at an anti-World Trade Organization demo in 2003, but 18 months later every charge was dropped. A "vast majority" of protesters see charges dropped or are found not guilty, Singh says.

"The State party should ensure that the right of persons to peacefully participate in social protests is respected, and ensure that only those committing criminal offences during demonstrations are arrested," the report says. "The Committee also invites the State party to conduct an inquiry into the practices of the Montreal police forces during demonstrations, and wishes to receive more detail about the practical implementation of article 63 of the Criminal Code relating to unlawful assembly."

Singh, a member of Anti-Capitalist Convergence (Convergence des luttes anti-capitalistes, or CLAC), says the UN complaint was initiated by local group Ligue des droits et libertés, but he was "indirectly involved" last year, providing the UN with an "activist arrest and trial calendar" documenting mass arrests and court cases. Singh says mass arrests began in Montreal around 1996.

At press time, Montreal police spokesperson Pierre-Paul Pichette was not available for comment. "To arrest just the one person throwing the rock is easier said than done," Pichette told the Montreal Gazette. Georges Bossé, the city’s executive committee member responsible for public safety, was reportedly furious that provincial Public Security Minister Jacques Dupuis didn’t notify him of the UN complaints.

Singh says protesters have complained to city hall for at least five years.

"The report validates what protesters have been saying about these protests, that these mass arrests are essentially a tactic by Montreal police to prevent by fear the involvement of young people who take to the streets in protest," he says.

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  • by Isabelle Gélinas - November 10, 2005, 4:04 am

    OK, yes the United Nations decided to review Montreal’s police techniques. So what! Do anybody cares about what the UN says or do today! I mean look at the american embargo over Cuba, its been more than 15 years since a majority voted against it every year and asked the USA to remove it. And what did it do? Nothing.
    Seriously, I believe the UN is very important and necessary in this world but I also have to admit in my “innocent hope for a better world” that the UN has no power at all.
    It is sad but true, so do you really think this UN investigation over Montreal’s police will really change something? I dont think so.

  • by Alexander Yu - November 10, 2005, 2:42 pm

    If that were true there would be no problems in terms of police involvement. This is after all Canada, not some totalitarian state, so we should not believe our police is some force of evil out to get us. That is in the US where paranoia has hit a new high, but here in Montreal I think we got it good. I say that because most of the people brought up in this city has the same ideals and goals. No one really wants to arrest a group of people protesting peacefully, because they probably might’ve done something like that in the past.
    So how did all these mass arrests come into place? Well like all things, it starts with ONE bad apple. And if the police go after that ONE bad apple the protestors think they are going after the whole group and go forth to protect that one bad apple (which makes no sense). So the police end up arresting a whole group instead of the instigator. That’s the problem.
    For instance the WTO protests were not peaceful. We had stores being vandalized; the wall that was erected to keep protestors at a distance was torn down. Now is that peaceful protest. A peaceful protest would probably be a group of people who blocked the streets and the cars of the powerful politicians so they can talk to them. A peaceful protest doesn’t involve throwing objects at the police. In fact there is no cause that ever justifies just random acts of violence, even against the state, because that’s asking for trouble.
    The UN report says there is a problem with how many people the Montreal Police arrested, but it did not say the police was at fault. It said that issue had to be investigated further. So instead of saying the police is evil maybe the protestors should meet up with them and come up with a plan so that next time a bad apple decides to cause trouble, they’ll be another solution then a “violent clash”.

  • by Yogesh Patel - November 10, 2005, 7:33 pm

    As powerless as I think the UN is in this instance, I’m glad the topic of demonstrations has come up.
    First and foremost, I would like to say I support the right to free speech, and assembly, yadda yadda yadda….
    But I have to agree with the statement that “to arrest that one person throwing a rock is easier said than done”. Honestly, when’s the last time you’ve see a demonstration and a window gets broken by someone, and the surrounding people turn and say “you really shouldn’t have done that! I’m telling the police!”. Didn’t think so.
    More often than not it’s mob mentality that takes over and before you know it, many windows are broken, fires are set, etc. More to the point it’s innocent bystanders whose lives are disrupted if not entirely turned upside down if you’re a store owner or a student who can’t get to class because the windows have been smashed in…but don’t get me started.
    Maybe the cops shouldn’t make mass arrests, but I doubt their job is made any easier by surrounding demonstrators.

  • by Charles Montpetit - November 10, 2005, 9:22 pm

    No matter how ineffective one thinks the UN might be, I think it says a lot about the gravity of the situation when our police force’s wrongdoings manage to catch the eye of the world in such a flamboyant fashion. And it’s not just our police v. the UN, either: Amnesty International has also denounced Canada’s immigration policies, and the censorship of Zahra Kazemi’s photo exhibit in Cote-St-Luc this summer made headlines overseas as well. Hey everyone, repression is not just for banana republics and totalitarian regimes anymore–*we* fit right in there with them! Pretty soon, I guess that Gulus and Ethiopians and tsunami victims will be organizing solidarity marches on our behalf. We made it, people. Don’t you all feel proud you live in such a colourful little burg?

  • by Basil James - November 11, 2005, 10:14 pm

    So, in the past six years about 2000 protesters have been arrested in Montreal for peacefully (for the most part) protesting at venues that had an event regarding social issues. That’s more arrests made than any other city in the country, during the same time period, and yet the city of Montreal (and for that matter the Quebec government) seem to be in denial about the whole matter. However, thanks to a U.N. report they can no longer avoid the reality surrounding the Mtl police’s procedures concerning protesters. Seems to me that our cops are trying to nip a potential problem in the bud. However, there was never any guarantee that trouble, serious or otherwise, was about to start and the fact that many of those who were arrested had all of the charges dropped against them is a testament to that fact. So, obviously, there are bigger issues than Georges Bosse being upset at the Public Security Minister for not telling him about the complaints made to the U.N. (especially since complaints were first made to Montreal City Hall and were largely ignored). The Montreal Police have a tarnished reputation in many communities on the island and it’s high-time that they make amends for their “procedures” before the community at large loses all respect for them.

  • by Maria Cecillia Silva - November 12, 2005, 1:17 pm

    Yes we all know that the United Nations is really not the spokes people for justice in this World. Not after they allowed the killing in Rwanda and the Invassions in the Arabe World without results to claims that were being made. I think even the United Nations is being bought by the great powers.
    However , in the case of police brutality , well as the violence in the city increases , so does the violence in the police enforcement. Their lives are at risk every single day they walk out the door , more so than ur own lives because the are the ones who are dealing with the law-brakers. They are the ones who have to arrest those who are killing innocent by standers and filling your youths with drugs and weapons. What happens to their hard work , well after they have gone through so much live threatening risks to capture this people they get released on bail or they are out in a short time and doing the same crimes again. The system sucks and we need to get harder on our penal system. We should have life sentences and we should have hard labour in prisons not tattooes at the expense of the tax payers. I believe that if laws were harder on our criminals we would decrease the crime rate. Police would not be under as much pressure . Don’t forget that apart with dealing with the ordinary crime scene , they are under stress to capture the terrorist attacks we may still have coming our way. Look at what the Police has to deal with in France Now! We need to make a whole restructuring of our very ancient laws and create new ones that face the crimes of today . We need to support and help our police officers to clean up the crime in our city. And yes we need to do this in a just way, but I have no pity for the treatment of criminals , they chose to be treated that way.

  • by Pedro Eggers - November 12, 2005, 6:16 pm

    I’m sorry but who’s more ineffective here, our problematic little brutes in blue that keep getting away with murder (sometimes literally) or the flippin’ UN? I don’t know if any of you are keeping score here but so far this decade the UN and the Montreal Police have shown an incredible inability to effecting positive change when it really matters. Ok, so maybe the UN isn’t as bad as the Montreal Police but if you were to apply a win/loss record standard to assess them thus far this decade I wouldn’t exactly be breaking out the party balloons and confetti.
    The Montreal Police acted badly, showed poor judgement and pretty much broke the law…is this news to anyone? Maybe to the Montreal Police that have demonstrated a huge blind spot in the past where their morality and common sense used to be but to the rest of us? Old news. Thank heavens the UN is here to intervene on our behalf like they have against the terrorist and fascist regimes out there like say, oh, I don’t know, George W. Bush and his ilk. Oh wait, that’s right, they’ve done jack all to live up to their mandate lately. Nevermind. Thanks but no thanks UN. The Montreal Police getting reprimanded by UN? Pretty much like righteously bitch slapping Mike Tyson with a feather, isn’t it?

  • by Maria Jankovics - November 13, 2005, 7:59 pm

    We shouldn’t totally blame the long arms of the law when it comes to arresting many people all at once. They get their orders from higher up. Govenernment bureaucracy is behind these arrests because they are scared of rioters or looters, so they send in the police to break up the peaceful rallies before they fear it will turn ugly. Remember Hockey Night in Montreal after the Leafs won the Stanley Cup; there was massive vandialism and things got way out of control? The mayor of our fair city no matter who is in City Hall won’t tolerate even peaceful marches which involves too many people; as larger the crowd; the harder to control. The police aren’t really at fault here, it is the political system that is to blame. Afterall the police go where they are sent. The arrests of innocent people however I am against but this is only done to try to stop this gatherings at other times. It is done to set an example for peaceful rallies ; and then some not so peaceful, gathering en masse is not to be tolerated and so then there are the reprecussions of many people getting arrested all at the same time. The government doesn’t want protests in the first place as it doesn’t look good on their records that something they have put in place isn’t getting accepted or that they do not want to be challenged to change things people disagree with either. They do not want especially the young people to protest as this is a clear sign of protest from the next generation. And it is always the young who do these rallies in defiance of le gouvernemente. Rarely do you see the ‘Baby Boomers’ out there or only perhaps a very small percentage. The young want radical change and want it right away so what do they do they protest in peaceful rallies aand hopefully it stays that way. Look at what has been going on in France of late. Would you want this in Montreal? I feel the police should only intervene if absolutely necessary but they never wait til that time; it’s immediately.

  • by Ben Kalman - November 14, 2005, 8:32 pm

    Perhaps the UN should have looked into the fact that part of the reason here are so many arrests at Montreal protests is that a) there are more protests per capita in Montreal than in most 1st world cities, and b) there is more protest violence than in most 1st world cities (excluding the joy that is France in the last few weeks…)
    That aside, I do agree that Montreal police tend to arrest first, investigate later. But I have to say that the few ‘bad apples’ that ruin Montreal protests by encouraging uncivil unrest, vandalism and violence often create the need for some form of action, and those who want peaceful protests simply get stuck in the middle. You are known for the company you keep, and Jaggi Singh is hardly the person who I’d look to as a protest role-model, or for an unbiased look at the protest situation. If people like Singh spent half the time denouncing those who disfigured the image of the protestor and encouraged violence as he did whining about those mean, bad men in blue, maybe something would get done about the issue at hand.
    The UN can talk all they want about police arresting protestors, but their time and money is better spent focusing on serious world issues – last time I checked, human rights were still being violated to all hell in China and Zimbabwe, AIDS was still rampant in Africa and Russia, and Darfur isn’t in much of a healing process.
    And if you want to understand what true peaceful protest culture is about, listen to We Shall Overcome, the 1963 Pete Seeger Carngie Hall performance, or watch some of Martin Luther King’s civil rights speeches. I don’t recall either of them throwing rocks at shop windows or taunting police officers…

  • by Stephen Talko - November 16, 2005, 8:42 am

    Innocent people are arrested all the time. If this were not true we would have all criminal cases resulting in convictions and prison times. But in actual fact some of the guilty get off on technicalities while the not guilty who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time have to defend themselves in court even spending time in lockup sometimes with dangerous criminals. Protestors at marches will have to accept this as a possibility. With so much destruction of public property during some confrontations with police it is not always easy to know who are the perpetrators and so the police resort to mass arrests which is unfortunate.

  • by PHYLLIS CARTER - February 27, 2010, 2:07 am

    My name is Phyllis Carter. I am a Canadian, a journalist, a senior and a cancer patient. I am also a crime victim. I have been fighting for justice since October 7, 1996, when I was attacked in my home and robbed of everything I had worked for all my life and everything left to me by my beloved husband.



    At the Meet the Candidates assembly in NDG on October 7, 2008, Liberal Member of Parliament, Marlene Jennings, stated before all the candidates and the public, “Mrs. Carter’s rights were violated three times”.

    The three violations

    1. In 1996, the Montreal Police refused to file a report of the initial robbery. They have continued to refuse to act ever since.

    2. In 2007, immediately following the death of my mother, the same group of criminals obtained a court order accusing me of being insane and dangerous. I was released from hospital unconditionally as soon as the doctors found out what my accusers had done and why. After my mother’s death, we learned that -

    3. In 2005, the same group who call themselves “Partners in Crime” created a will in my mother’s name when she was 92 years old and handicapped physically and mentally. My mother was kept in total isolation by these criminals for ten years – until her death. The sole beneficiaries of the 2005 will were the same people who robbed me and obtained the court order against me. Then it became clear why these criminals tried to discredit me and silence me.

    Marlene Jennings was re-elected to Parliament on October 14, 2008. It is now February 26, 2010. I am still waiting. .. but not just waiting. I am working night and day to try to find someone in authority who cares enough about justice to act in this case.

    For all the details see http://dawnmcsweeney.blogspot.com

  • by Arche Mdis - September 25, 2010, 5:56 am

    The United nations is simply pointing out that Montreal police have a record of arresting protestors for no other reason than to break a protest. When doing this they break the laws of this country and the code of ethics of the United Nations, which Canada happens to be a member of. It may not be easy to arrest the person who threw the rock, but is against the law and morally to arrest everyone standing there as well. If the law governing the policing of protests is inadequate than maybe the police should follow the same process as the rest of us and appeal to the government to have the law changed. The breaking of the law by anyone should not be tollerated. Canada is a member of the United Nations and is seeking a greater role in this organization of nations and as such has a responsibility to make sure it’s own house is in order, as difficult as this might seem at any given time. Montreal police are violating the rights of our citizens, with no action taken to stop, or punish them ( the police), is wrong and does not send a good message on our ability as a nation to practice what we preach. By our membership in this organization we have agreed to govern and live by certain standards and codes;we should stop whining and pull up our socks. How can we fight for the injustices suffered by others by police and the like, when in parts of our country the same thing is being done.

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