We are launching this special issue – in print and online with interactive content – the day before the annual anti-police brutality march in Montreal, which takes place March 15 at 5 p.m. The goal of the march, as with this special issue, is to engage the McGill and greater community in thinking critically about police forces as institutions and looking at alternative methods of preventing and responding to crime.

As a branch of the state, a police force works for the dominant interest in a society – today, that is protecting sites of capital and upholding the status quo. This has been shown during the demonstrations in support of the student movement where police officers stand in front of banks to prevent any possible damages that protesters can enact. However, they have no problem using physical violence towards people and routinely target certain groups of the population based on race, class, ethnicity, or geographical location.

Last year’s constant police presence at demonstrations in support of the Maple Spring revealed to many what these targeted populations experience regularly: Montreal police officers unevenly enforce municipal bylaws and violence to suppress those who choose to protest. And let’s not forget that the act of entering the streets to demonstrate is a privilege in itself, and one that is denied to populations who rightly fear being targeted by the police. The work of the Coalition Opposed to Police Brutality attempts to aid those who have suffered from police brutality or have been unjustly arrested.

In this issue, we explore everything from the methods in which police protect the most privileged among us at the expense of the marginalized to alternatives to the militarized, repressive nature of police forces.