Commentary  Tear-Gassed to Sleep

Notes on the Feast against the Elections

Late on October 1, dozens of black flags lined the streets just south of Lafontaine park, in the wake of the CAQ victory in the provincial election. Our demonstration had been brief but powerful. Discarded in the midst of an altercation with riot police, the flags remained, at least momentarily, marking our passage. Scattered across the pavement, they were symbols of our intolerance of the new government’s white supremacy.

The demo began around 10 p.m. A pink smoke grenade was lighted, marking the beginning of our display of resistance. Fireworks splintered and splattered, dying out among the trees. Cops, who had been roaming around for a while, at times hiding behind their unmarked vehicles, were staring at us from a distance. It seemed as though they were waiting for just one transgression, infraction, or crime, that could serve as justification for the barrels of tear gas they were preparing to unload on us.

As we made our way south, a woman exiting the Notre-Dame Hospital tripped and fell. Almost immediately, around a dozen of us stopped to offer her a hand. We didn’t know how to help her. And with riot cops charging at us from behind, we knew that we couldn’t offer her anything beyond our split-second presence. Flaming tear gas cans filled Plessis street and the hospital parking lot. The police were gaining ground, but our damage had already been done. Our stones had landed. Their precious patrol cars had already been dented, their aggressive, obnoxious machismo irreversibly mollified.

Others continued down Plessis, smashed a Desjardins bank, and, dwindling in number, stumbled upon the PQ’s Election Night gathering where they delivered a brief “fuck-you” before continuing to run from the increasingly confident police charges.

The dents we left behind and the flags that we were forced to abandon have earmarked your world for destruction. Our dents, our black fabric strewn across your peaceful city roads symbolize a world diametrically opposed to yours—a world impatiently awaiting its revolutionary release, a world no riot cop or corporate chemical canister will ever be able to contain. A world in which unaccountable elites are replaced with temporary, revocable assignations open to all. A world in which we would loathe to abandon our decision-making powers to wealthy ‘socialist’ upper-class poster boys who see fit to plaster their unblemished faces on our street corners. Poster boys who on this very night and for the next four years will continue to benefit from the bloodthirsty government while the rest of us are peacefully tear-gassed to sleep.

Starting today, and for the next four years, elected CAQ officials will continue to exacerbate racial tensions, implementing an immigration policy that openly seeks the subordination of racialized people. Without mechanisms by which to hold these officials truly accountable, we will have to take up tried and tested grassroots tactics as well as imagine and re-imagine new ones. The bureaucratic and violent mechanisms through which the state enacts its white supremacist policies will have to be undermined, thwarted, or else thoroughly destroyed.