Sorry for the long absence to all 2 people that check my blog :)

I was “premptive arrested”-profiled- on Sunday and kept in police custody for about 5 hours.  This kinda of stuff is clearly garbage.  Cops tried to justify it, but everything they were using ended up getting thrown back in their faces (for example, the “weapons” found in some bags that were unlawfully searched were just a theatre students props for a set they were coming from).

Is the movement stagnating now? Has the attrition that the liberal government was hoping with its special law begun to happen?  Maybe…the ebb and flow of the movement is normal, and doesn’t necessarily mean that people are less dedicated to winning, but it does mean that a lot of us are working now that summer is here and have less time to organise.

A really cool development that is now happening is the creation of community assemblies that are organized by area.  These popular assemblies are popping up in many working areas, including cotes-des-neiges and hoshlega.  Also, consolidating our capacities and saving up our energy for when it really counts: in august, when we are being ordered back to school, despite the large possibility that we will still not have democratically voted on such a return to class.

Well, I have a bit of a loss for words.

The visibility actions that would happen at the public access events for the Grand Prix have been important, though rather small.  During the day, people banging pots and pans in the middle of the festival, while the security tries to drown us out by blasting the music.  People are much more hostile here, they seem to be coming from a certain mentality and a certain background (the Grand prix is a very pricey event, and even the public events are saturated in consuming and spending $$$).  But even so, there were nods of support here and there.  As well as mostly anglophones yelling at us to “get a job”

The eveving though is something else….Ive never seen anything like it.

There are so many people in the streets, so many tourists and locals, that on top of that the demonstrators it’s chaotic.  More importantly, all the normal dispersion tactics are not working, because it would appear that the police have orders not to harass the tourists and consumers too much.  Therein lies the problem: we can blend in with them.  Also, we can always get around a police line.  In general, if a group of people are all at the intersection, the riot cops come and push out one crowd, but another follows behind them.

Another important element of this equation is that not many people like cops.  People that have never been to a protest do sometimes small and sometimes larger gestures of solidarity with the demonstration: either taking the streets with us, chasing the riot cop line as it runs towards a group, revving the motorcycle all in unison, or yelling at the police to “control these protesters man!”.  It’s unreal the way that the protest, although still very much is a game of cat and mouse, remains intact despite several dispersions and a couple shots of tear gas at least.  It is fluid…as soon as a line of riot cops pass and push people out, people from the sidewalk flood in.

The unfortunate thing about all of this is that people walking by, going out or trying to celebrate may be pushed, gassed or just inconvenienced by these protests.  Its unfortunate because that is not what they signed up for.

But then again, thats not really what we signed up for either.

The night demos are wild, with targeted arrests being an important feature.  But they are for sure popular.  I will write more as soon as I can.

PS one other thing is that the police can’t just kettle us.  By rounding us up, they would be casting the net far too wide, arresting rich clientele and tourists.  You can feel the anger, and you can see their (police) fear.

Today was a bad day.  A day of restistance and combative demonstrations, but also full of police violence, tear gas, arrests and raids.

Starting this morning 4 people were arrested for being in connection with possible micheif committed in connection to the student strike.  We are talking graffiti and messed up offices.  People who were arrested being linked to the blocking of the cegep Vieux montreal back at the very beginning of the strike.  One of the people arrested was the daughter of the leader of the progressive political party quebec solidaire.  At 5pm, the first 11 people that were present for the demonstration were charged and beaten, then a couple hundred more came and the violence was calmed down.

This is all i know from second hand reporting, i wasn’t there.  After that, it seems that protesters were kettled and gassed and beat as they were slowly arrested.  The larger group found a way to get close to the grand prix cocktail: this was the target for disruption.  protesters were gassed until they were pushed back unto st catherine street, where the demo disrupted the shopping festivities (its a real thing) that were happening in conjunction with teh Grand prix weekend and F1.  Anyway, it ended with forced dispersion.  I saw a video of a construction pilon being thrown at a cop.  Also saw a police officer spraying the crowd, and someone came up from a side angle and tried to kick the canister out of the cops hand.  That was epic to watch.

There have been “threatening” envelopes to over 20 governement offices, corporations and media corporations.  they were signed by the armed forces of quebec.  What they actually said is mostly unknown.  A couple of them said ANTHRAX on them and had white powder in them.  Police were called in to see if the powder was dangerous, but it was concluded that the powder was Baking Soda.

I can’t make sense of much right now.  I thought I should at least write what is going on though.  The grand prix lasts all weekend long.   More updates to come!

As we become used to the energy it requires to be here, with your heart on your sleeve at the general assemblies, workshops and protests, we become better at doing this.  We are more unified and are wonderfully creative.  Even in the face of the government’s refusal to negotiate with us.

The government has imposed on all of Quebec a special law that will force students back to school in august, and that will make the way we protest criminal.  Our student associations, our student unions, our organisers are all susceptible to fines that range from 1000 $ for the individual to 125,000$ for an organisation.

Now, this law was passed right before the Montreal tourist industry normally explodes: festivals back to back from june to the beginning of august.  This city needs that economy like USA needs christmas.  And Quebec as a province needs Montreal to make money.

One of the less artistic, definitely not free events that this city hosts is the Grand Prix, a nascar like event.  Renting your apartment to someone during the Grand Prix for 3 days can make you 2000$ dollars.  Money and capital will be there.  And so will the students, workers and militant elements of this social movement.

Yesterday at the night demonstration, there were some guys on the top of a building waving the racing checkered flags.  We sang “Charest, tu rit, mais check ben ton Grand Prix!” – Charest, your laughing, but watch for your Grand Prix (also translates as your big prize).

There were flyers being handed out, and longer pamphlets talking about what this event is, and why we should disrupt it.  The premier himself made a desperate attempt to call out to protesters, saying in the news that out of respect for your fellow quebeckers, do not disrupt the Grand Prix.

Well, monsieur, you can’t have your cake and eat it do.  You can’t kick us out of negotiations and expect no reaction.  As they say, no social peace until justice. Its heating up out here in the City.

Not just in Montreal either.  Protests in London, Paris, Toronto, Ottawa and all over  Quebec are becoming more popular.  We’re leading up to a decisive moment this summer.  And to be fair these kind of actions are what got us where we are today.  Before the world cared, before anglophones cared, before night demos were invented we were blocking banks, occupying offices, doing flashmobs and guerrilla art and blocking the bridges into the city.

That is when we were beat down, we were sprayed.  That is what made us good at what we do now.  And those means are what gave us the leverage that we have.

When we went on strike, we had to do more than just not go to class.  Student associations called for disruptions of economic centres in Montreal: like the banks.  Students blocked bridges and occupied government offices.  There were CEGEPS that were blocked and barricaded and no one, not even workers, were let in the buildings.  This was our attempt to let the powers that be know that we know what they care about, and that we are won’t let them do business in peace while they decide to fuck us over.

So its like a flashback now.  At the beginning of this strike, there was an action every morning at 7am or even earlier sometimes.  Its time to embrace our roots.

Well, it would seem that negociations have begun between the Student Federation for Universities (FEUQ), The Student federation for Colleges (CEGEPS), aka FECQ, and my lovely wonderful student union, La CLASSE: large coalition for a student union solidarity   (please accept my biased reporting!! Its a blog! he he).

Anyway, there is some history and explanation that needs to be done about who is who. I see the federations as similar to the Canadian federation of students, which has a vast membership across Canada.  Ultimately, the federation may have progressive elements or tendancies, but often is a flop when it comes to creating and supporting radical campaigns, having any real mass support behind them or making change that matters.

Ultimately any organisation is only as important as the number of people that care about it.  And like I said in my previous post, the direct democracy that is the foundation of this mouvement makes it so that the student unions strength COMES from the general assemblies it requires its members to hold.  You see the marches, and maybe you wonder, wow! How come we don’t have that here in ________?  Well, there is a boring, hard work involved in the messy messy process of general assemblies. They are spaces of debate, and the executive of any student association can only act within the mandates that were given to them by the general assembly. Before, and after the strike this was true.  There are many hurtful things that this strike has brought all of us.  But the SOCIAL element of direct democracy can soothe this.  It forces you to talk and listen to the people around you.  It forces you to recognise that this is a human experiment.

I can tell you one thing for sure.  NO ONE, not the executives of la CLASSE or the average professor, thought that this would be this long and this important to quebec society.  This is the most important north american resistance of the austerity measures that are sweeping across the western world.  We have the hopes of thousands, maybe millions riding on us.  We can’t lose.

The only thing that people can draw a parallel to is the quebec student strike of 2005.  This is where your history is important.  With government negotiations beginning after a about a month and a half of striking, the student federations sold out the student union by making a back-door deal with the government while the student union wasn’t present.  Then, the federations asked for a referendum from their members.  The members (students) voted 60% against the government’s offer, and 40% for the offer.

Then, the leaders of the federations decided that, despite the referendum results, that they would accept the offer anyway.  A blatant disregard for the democratic process and the voices of the student. Well, this shattered the movement into fragments: some student stayed on strike for another 3-4 weeks, most went back to classes.  It was a backstabbing and anti-democratic move on the part of the Federations.

Since then the federations have been consistently losing associations which they represent, while la CLASSE has been gaining more and more.  Granted, the little piece of history is over simplified, but it is through this context that we must understand the elements at play right now, during negotiations.  La CLASSE represents just over 50% of students on strike.  So even if the same game is pulled, they are arranged it so that we can go it alone if we must.

To date, I believe that la CLASSE is one of the only organisations in quebec that has called for public and mass civil disobedience to the special law 78.  They have passed many motions in support of other marginalised groups, and have a firm stance of free education.  There are also many things to be critical of , which I am happy to discuss.  But my I think it is fair to say that the proof of the pudding is in the eating: la CLASSE has overcame many obstacles thrown its way in the last 3months, and has remained principled.

This is a testament to the students, because our unions,in order to be combative and radical need not radical leaders: they need democratic processes and people committed to seeing those processes through. The people will speak for themselves.

Here is a collection of photos I have that have been taken all over MTL.

See the red square?

People often hang red clothes out their windows when the march passes by…some keep it there permanently

the sticker says: Social justice? General strike!

Down with capitalism

Criminalization (its more in the sense of legalization. That is, pushing all these students into the legal system by charging them and ticketing them) undermines conflict

The hike stops here

towards free education

look down! it’s a red square on the cement!

This demonstration happened right before the beginning of the strike, and it was in front of the office where the minister of education of Quebec works.  The camera person is asking throughout the video “Don’t you find that your college is exaggerated? Who is giving the orders here? This is excessive.”

At one point the student start to say “We want to study, we don’t want to become indebted”  but then change to “We want to study, we don’t want to be hit”