Red Flag Express №13

It’s right to rebel…even without police “acceptance”

The demonstration called by the RCP-Laurentides that took place last Saturday (September 29th) in Saint-Jérôme has been crowned a massive success: the people who took part walked the streets of the downtown core for more than an hour, without a single attempt by the municipal police to intervene and prevent it.

This is a stark contrast to the demonstration held last August 11th, when the police of Saint-Jérôme, under the supervision of an agent of the Sûreté du Quebec, aggressively disrupted and dispersed the first demonstration organized by the RCP-Laurentides and proceeded to arrest nine demonstrators, who have since been charged with “obstruction of justice.” The police also seized all banners, flags, megaphones and sound systems used by the demonstrators (which are all still in police possession). The police “justified” this brutal and completely undemocratic intervention due to the fact that the RCP did not ask for “permission” and that the demonstrators had distributed “hateful messages” to passers-by to inform them of the objective of the demo.

After this repressive and politically-motivated attack, the RCP-Laurentides launched a call to “continue the demonstration” on September 29th, convinced that it is not for the police to decide who has the right to rally and express themselves.

In the days immediately prior to the return, the authorities sent contradictory signals about their attitude towards this second demonstration. On Wednesday 26th, the Police Chief of Saint-Jérôme sent an email to the RCP-Laurentides in which he expressed his willingness to respect the demonstration, and even expressed his wish to “welcome” the demonstrators.

But the next day, the Crown Prosecutor pursuing the charges against the nine accused revealed quite blatantly that the police of Saint-Jérôme in tended to adopt the same aggressive attitude as they had August 11th: No permit, no demo. She even refused to set the date of the court proceedings, claiming that the second demonstration would doubtlessly lead to more arrests and that it would be preferable to charge those arrested on August 11th and those who will be arrested on September 29th in the same court process! Nevertheless, the demonstrators were ready for any eventuality and were determined to exercise their right to demonstrate —a right that is recognized by bourgeois law, contrary to the police’s claim.

Right on time, at 1:00 p.m., the demonstrators began to gather at the Curé-Labelle Square. Almost immediately it became apparent that the police had done a complete 180 degrees turn from August 11th: there were almost no police in sight, and when they arrived, they approached the demonstrators and informed a representative of the protest that this time they were going to accept the demonstration in the streets. Was this because they realized that this demonstration was even larger than the last? Because the local press was present? Because they feared that in the case of a renewed attack from their part, the case would arise too much publicity? Or was it simply the fact that the Police Chief in Saint-Jérôme received a crash course on the actual law regarding the right to protest by a more competent authority? Whatever the case, this time the demonstration went without any police intervention or arrest—although there were still numerous cops , and they did still photograph and videotape the protest and even tried to identify some of the demonstrators.

So, for more than an hour, the demonstrators walked the downtown streets of this city located about 30 kilometres north of Montréal, shouting slogans against capitalist exploitation and oppression and calling on workers to organize themselves and fight for socialism and revolution.

Along with activists and supporters of the RCP, a number of individuals from various groups joined to show their solidarity and to defend the right to protest. Among them were the Centre for Philippine Concerns, the Bolivarian Society of Québec, the Revolutionary Video Club of Saint-Jérôme, the Laurentides chapter of the Communist Party of Québec, independent journalists of Radio Centre-Ville and Radio McGill, as well as anarchist supporters.

Throughout the march, distributors circulated leaflets from the RCP-Laurentides to invite the people to a “discussion night” that will be held on Wednesday, October 10th at 7:30 p.m. at the Centre de Bénévolat de Saint-Jérôme. The leaflets also explained to the people the goal of the demonstration:

“We definitely want to express our opinion of the unfair arrests that took place in August, but we also want to bring up discussion about the possibility to organize ourselves to change this system, to make revolution. In Saint-Jéröme, the job market is very small, and there is a lack of well-paying jobs, particularly temporary employment, and unemployment is high. The youth are most heavily affected by this situation, and have little going for them. So what can we do? We can start off by proclaiming: No more! It is not enough to simply speak up to ask for more employment. We must change this world, we must transform it. And to do that, we must organize ourselves, for it is time to act!”

After the success of this “Demonstration 2.0”, the authorities will have no choice but to withdraw the insane accusations that weigh against the nine accused of August 11th. If they do not, then they had better dig themselves in and prepare for a true battle, both political and legal, which will unfold during the course of this trial!

e p D T F s