Updated: Dec 3, 2022
- but this bitch is a cucaracha
Listen instead, Will:
First thing's first: if you were expecting stories to come out in chronological order, delete that, it's not going to happen. I write the stories I've lived when I feel inspired to write 'em, hence today's title:
That time the SPVM tried to kill me
(SPVM: Service de Police de la Ville de Montreal, Montreal Police Service)
The year is 2015. My friends and I are at the very start of our political shit-disturbing. Although the year had started on a frozen note with #OccupyVigerSquare (more on that in another article), our attention quickly shifted to bill C-51, what is essentially Canada's Patriot Act. An anti-terrorist bill that we knew beyond any doubt would be used against Canadians, first. Sure sure, you can try to convince me that this bill was meant for big bad boogey men who fly planes into buildings, but good luck. They broadened the definition of "national security" to mean whatever the fuck they wanted.
At this point, I had seen too many laws meant to protect us, be used against us, and had seen far too many documentaries, to fall for that trick. Right! So this shin dig against bill C51 turned into a pan-Canadian event, and later, a global event:
Just in case you're wondering if I'm making this shit up:
Now that you have the context of 2015
Alright, now that I have set the mood, let's get to the good shit. In 2015, the fight against this bill was not the only thing sparking current event headlines. In Quebec, a new front of protests was ignited by the students (again). In fact, 2015 made history: the BIGGEST protest in recent history. So why didn't you hear about it like you may have heard of the Maple Spring? In case you have no idea what the Maple Spring is, here's just one picture.
You HAD to take an aerial shot if you wanted to capture the whole crowd. That alone, is enough to call in the media whores. Let that sink in:
The millions of people protesting in 2015 were not in one single spot. I had never seen such a thing: the protest(s) was decentralized and was all over Quebec, at once.
C51 and students: a conundrum
It was inevitable: we were protesting bill C51 during the day, and by night, we would join their events. On one of these particular days, things didn't go as usual. The protests I organized with friends were thought out: we didn't just walk in the streets. We'd walk to Trudeau's office, in his riding, and deliver over 84 000 signatures. Every decision was carefully planned.
We wouldn't just make noise at Place des Arts during the day to piss people off: we chose Place des Arts for its no-car area (so no cop cars), and protested by day because it deters bad behavior from cops AND ill-intended people. It's hard to lie in broad daylight. Right!
So this time around, we were protesting in front of the office of the minister of public security. Typically the cops don't interact with us. They show up, "escort" the protest, and leave. But not today, folks, not today.
I had a strange encounter, just a moment, with an SPVM GI (Gang Intervention) agent during this particular C51 rally. At the end of our protest, he said 3 words that will haunt me to my grave:
À ce soir
"See you tonight"
I thought nothing of it, and quite honestly have no evidence that his statement was actually a veiled threat, I can't prove his intent --- BUT
What happened during the evening protest was important enough that I am writing it out for the 4th time here, right now.
So there we were, marching up a street with peace signs in the air, a joyful, peaceful feeling over us as we continued our parade, which we actually believe can change something, change the world. Everything seemed fine -- and then the banging. Before I continue, let me tell you the approach the SPVM uses to disperse a crowd:
The yell on the loudspeaker to gtfo or they'll start arresting. They'll do this about 3 times, sometimes more depending on how eager they are to beat us.
The swat team is deployed with GI (remember that from earlier? Don't forget.)
Swat starts banging on their shields, a steady, slow beat, as an intimidation tactic and start moving in on the protest.
They start speeding up the tempo of banging: this means they're about to charge us.
They charge us and beat whatever/whoever, is in the way.
OK! Now that you understand this, back to the timeline:
Everything seemed fine -- and then the banging.
On this night, regular procedure was not in the books. We jumped right to step 4-5 in a blink. Out of nowhere, they charged at us. No warning, no nice cops before bad cops - straight to the beating. Now, I was not the fastest, still am not, and was out of shape (still am). My friends took off, Mike got passed the incoming police line, and Remy, wanting to protect me, stayed with my sorry ass that got stuck BEHIND the charging police line. Mike stopped in his tracks as the line closed behind him and I remember looking right in his eyes when he realized Remy and I were stuck on the other side. The cops start yelling at us to leave, but had left no space to escape. In some weird series of events, I grab Remy in a hug and start yelling back:
We're leaving, we're leaving!
The next thing I knew, I was being pulled out and away from Remy to then be struck by a GI, holding his baton with two hands, right on my sternum. Then, a space was opened between two cops holding the line and a "mediator" pointed to the exit, as if ushering us out of the protest. I was winded. According to friends, my eyes looked like they were popping out of my head.
This is how I'd like to think I looked. Fucked up, but cute:
The parking lot
I can't run, so I seek shelter. The spot I find with Remy and Mike is a parking lot between apartment buildings. We tuck away behind cars as the tear gas cans start to fly. I can't keep going, so I give my protest gear to the guys, Mike gives me his keys, and I'm just going to hunker down until the chaos is far away from me. The choppers are out, the air wreaks of CS Gas (banned for use in war in the Geneva convention, FYI), and my fear is a 12/10. I start removing anything visibly marking me as a protestor: I'll be walking to the car alone and sure as hell don't want to get wrecked again. This is A PROBLEM. When the state instills such fear in you that you start hiding who you are, we're heading down a road we really don't want to be.
This is also where the PTSD kicks in: I hear the chopper and immediately start spinning around to make sure I am FAR AWAY from whatever protest is approaching. To this day, when I hear a chopper, I look around, just in case. And THAT is the story of how the SPVM tried to kill me. I wonder if the GI who hit me happened to be, or maybe know, the other GI who said "see you tonight", earlier that day. Meh.
Tap the banner. I DARE ya.