Protesting colonial plunder and ecological destruction may not be ‘legal’, but it’s right!
Indigenous Desk- 4:06pm / 9 Feb 2013
This morning around 10:00am, Montreal police reportedly arrested 36 people who were protesting outside the Palais des Congrès, where Montreal Board of Trade was hosting a natural resources conference.
The protest was dubbed ‘Protest Against Plan Nord 2.0’ on the Facebook event page. Opponents of the resource extraction plan point out that the conference’s objective is simply to advance the previous Liberal government’s Plan Nord, which is now being rebranded in the hands of the Parti Quebecois government of Pauline Marois as “Le Nord pour tous” (The North For All). The 25-year project is estimated to bring in $80 billion in investments and create 20,000 jobs. The government scheme is being used to turn working-class people in Quebec – especially in rural and northern regions – against indigenous people’s struggles and the concerns of those who foresee the ecological damage.
People’s journalist and Basics correspondent Louisa Worrell was live on the scene and reported some 400-500 people in attendance, “a mix of generations and people including Anglophones, Francophones and Innu.” Aaron Lakoff of the Montreal Media Co-Op recently reported on the developing resistance of Innu communities to the massive resource extraction plan.
Worrell was among the dozens arrested after police attacked the demonstration. Worrell, texting to Basics live from her holding cell on her unconfiscated phone, reported being arrested “after yelling at police to stop hurting protestors.”
“I began yelling when I noticed 4 cops on top of one person ‘arresting’ him… This reminded me of Junior Manon [18-year old killed by police in Toronto]… and others who have been victim of the ‘pain compliance’ tactics of police force.” Worrell also reported being taken in with 9 minors “who were arrested for having sung in front of the building.”
A short video on CBC.ca shows a barrage of riot police storming a crowd of dispersing protestors. The police attacked the demonstration after a window was broken at the conference site, which one Facebook user on the Plan Nord 2.0 page attributed to police agents. Whether it was an of righteous anger or a police plant setting up the protest to be attacked, the whole rally was criminalized not on the basis of a broken window pane. Sgt. Ian Lafrenière of the Montreal police said 32 of the people arrested will be charged with taking part in an illegal assembly – deemed “illegal” because protestors failed to provide police with an itinerary in advance.
Speaking on behalf of Basics Community News Service, Chairperson JD Benjamin demanded the immediate release of Worrell and all the other protestors, and the dropping of all trumped up charges. “The alleged ‘crimes’ of today’s protestors will not obscure the violence meted out by Montreal police against people exercising their basic democratic rights, nor will it divert our attention from the violence that will be conducted on the environment in northern Quebec and the Innu, Cree, and Inuit communities that will see their ancestral lands ruined by Pauline Marois’s plunderous Plan Nord 2.0.”