This Saturday marks the twelfth-annual March Against Police Brutality, organized by the Le Collectif opposé à la brutalité policière (COBP) in conjunction with the International Day Against Police Brutality.
This year’s protest will condemn what organizers call the “social cleansing” of public spaces in Montreal. Organizers allege that the Ville-Marie borough’s recent crackdown on loitering in public areas after midnight and its movement to limit pet owners to bring only two dogs to public spaces target homeless and street people.
“When we talk about police, we’re also talking about the government. The police is the muscle for the City of Montreal,” said a member of the COBP collective, who asked not to be named due to targeting of organizers by the police.
The march will also stress political repression, like that at the Security, Prosperity, and Partnership meeting at Montebello last August, where police planted a number of provocateurs.
“[The police] are always there. That’s why Montebello was so important, the public eye finally saw it,” the organizer said.
Saturday’s march will also focus on recent high-profile deaths linked to tasers that occurred under police custody. Robert Dziekanski, Claudio Castagnetta, and Quilem Registre all died this year after being tasered by Canadian police.
But the COBP stresses that police brutality will not end with a moratorium on tasers.
“It’s one tool the police use. If they’re not going to use tasers, they’re going to use guns,” the COBP member said.
Last year’s demonstration drew attention when, after the march ended in Côte-des-Neiges, a number of individuals took the metro to Berri Square, breaking bus station windows and a McDonald’s sign.
Despite these actions, the COBP member stressed that the collective doesn’t support violence.
“We don’t support the random breaking of stores and windows. But at the same time, we very much understand it. A lot of the street kids consider it their night to go out and take a stand,” he said.
The march begins at 3 p.m. Saturday at Berri Square. Demonstrations are also being organized in Trois-Rivières, Toronto, Belleville, Guelph, Winnipeg, Calgary, Vancouver, and Oaxaca, Mexico.