Quebec: Brutal Police Assault on Protesters

Denounce Brutal Police Assault on Protesters!
Montreal Police and Couillard Government
Must Be Held to Account!

The Marxist-Leninist Party of Quebec (PMLQ) vehemently condemns the brutal assault by Montreal police with night sticks and tear gas on the tens of thousands of demonstrators denouncing the austerity agenda on April 2. We unequivocally condemn the police service and the Couillard government for the use of violence against students, workers and members of community organizations denouncing the anti-social austerity agenda and defending the rights of all. The police and Couillard government must render public account for their assault against those, especially the youth, who are fighting for the rights of all. We also condemn the monopoly media who shamelessly lie, saying that so-called police action was necessary to disperse protesters who refused to leave after the event was over.

The facts are as follows. The demonstration brought together tens of thousands of people and was composed mainly of youth, mostly Cégep students (from Alma, Chicoutimi, Saint-Félicien, Drummmondville, Vieux Montreal, de Maisonneuve and many others), as well as university and high school students. At the time of the demonstration, approximately 150,000 students were on strike across Quebec. Also present at the demonstration were many contingents of workers, including members of Unifor, the United Steelworkers, the United Food and Commercial Workers, and from the public sector, teachers, hospital workers and municipal employees. There was a strong contingent of teachers from the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), members of the Syndicat des professeurs de l’UQAM on strike that day because of stalled negotiations due to the administration implementing the austerity agenda, and also to denounce the administration’s threats to expel UQAM students for their political actions. Their placards read, “No to Authoritarianism!” The event also included several contingents of community organizations defending the rights of the poorest people who are most drastically affected by service cuts and fee increases. The purpose of the demonstration was to send a clear message to the Couillard government that the collective struggle of the people against the anti-social austerity agenda will inevitably grow despite the retrogressive budget and the threats, intimidation, police violence and reprisals which are the response of a government unfit to govern.

After a few speeches, the march began at 1:30 pm from Victoria Square. The spirit was one of resolute struggle against the anti-social austerity agenda, but no one sought any confrontation, physical or otherwise, with the police. At one point the demonstration turned east onto Maisonneuve St., and when the demonstrators reached Papineau St., a cordon of riot police blocked them and demanded that the demonstrators turn south. At one point, without warning, the police started beating the demonstrators on the front lines and then beat those who came to the aid of their colleagues on the ground. Police launched tear gas in two waves on demonstrators on the front lines, despite the risk of serious injury, and also into the middle of the crowd. Later, at the end of the demonstration, which reconverged to the west, police charged at demonstrators to force them to disperse.

The PMLQ calls on all the workers and organizations to strongly denounce the police assault and the wave of criminalization against the students to try to crush and demoralize them. The Couillard government and its crass goons, like the so-called Minister of Education who called on universities to expel students for their political activities, must be condemned. It is the Couillard government that is primarily responsible. It uses the political violence of its majority dictate to impose an agenda on the people that it knows the people have denounced as a broad attack against society as a whole. It is not an agenda decided on by the people but in the private backrooms of the monopolies and their institutions, such as ratings agencies and the like.

Violence against protesters demonstrates political cowardice and the lack of rational arguments on the part of those whose only weapon is mass repression when the people stand up for their rights.

The demonstration, as expressed by all the speakers and demonstrators with their placards and slogans, showed that the austerity agenda is an attack against the whole of society, and that the struggle will continue until its repeal. The most popular sign of the whole event was a tiny sign held by a demonstrator strategically placed for all to see that said “Couillard out!” More than ever, this spirit imbues the people who will not be silenced!

Long Live the Struggle of the People Against the
Anti-Social Austerity Agenda and for Their Rights!
Hands Off the Youth!
The Police and Couillard Government Must Be Held to Account!

(April 2, 2015)

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