Thursday, March 20, 2008

Montreal Police Seize Computers in Hunt for Your Father, Your Uncle and Your Dog



La Presse and the Montreal Gazette each carried articles today about the three low-level actions carried out in Montreal's working class Hochelaga Maisonneuve neighbourhood over the past week.

Remember everyone: Play safe. Don't talk to the cops. Don't guess who is doing what. Don't ask questions none of us need to know the answers to.

And please, don't send me any communiques, i'm fine finding them online myself.

To read the communiques from the past weeks action:

Here is the La Presse article, translated by yours truly. Below one can find the Gazette article.

Anarchist Groups: a web host's computers are seized
Caroline Touzin
La Presse

Montreal police raided a web host in Montreal on Tuesday night to identify who was behind the recent crimes claimed by anarchist groups in the Hochelaga-Maisoneeuve neighbourhoud, Le Presse has learned.

Four police officers arrived, with a search warrant, at Koumbit, a non-profit organization which offers computer services to forty or so Quebec community associations and organizations. Koumbit hosts the Centre des médias alternatifs du Québec (CMAQ). This group distributed messages from the Your father, Your Uncle and YOUr Dog collectives, which claims reponsibility for (respectively) the setting on fire of six police cars, of automatic tellers as well as vandalism at a car sales lot.

The warrant authorized police to seize all computers on the premises and also stipulated that the organization hand over its "logs" to investigators, as well as as much information as possible about the four articles published on CMAQ. "Koumbit believes that such a warrant is problematic. The normal course of justice should not cause undue damage to businesses and organizations which are heavily dependent on the means of communication that we offer them, nor should it silence online media such as blogs or public forums," emphasized the organization in a press release it issued last night. Koumbit also provided three lines of its "logs", which are records of events which document visits to websites. A log normally contains the visitors address, the time they visited, the page visited as well as the kind of browser used.

The police, for its part, refused to comment on this information. "Those who commit crimes do not need added publicity. We refuse to discuss our investigation strategy," said sergeant Ian Lafrenière, of the Montreal police.

A member of the CMAQ collective, Martin Deshaies, feels that the police are "exaggerating." The CMAQ defines itself as a response to the mainstream media inspired by the international independent media network Indymedia. The site agreed to publish the communiqués as it has a principle of free publication, specified Mr Deshaies. "In the 1970s, the Front de libération du Québec send its communiqués to the mass media. The media reprinted them without necessarily agreeing with their message. It is the same thing with us today," explained Mr Deshaies.

A Worrisome Sentence

The CMAQ has an editorial policy that a message's contents cannot be defamatory. For this reason the CMAQ had removed a sentence from the Your Father Collective about the burnt police cars. "One sentence went too far," explained another member of CMAQ, Michaël Lessard. This censored sentence was inviting people to burn "the hotels and houses of capitalists." Mr Lessard also warned people not to be too hasty in assuming who was behind these messafes. "Watch out before you conclude that they are anarchists. These kinds of arguments can also be made by many far left groups or by young people who are angry about injustice." In the past CMAQ has received other requests from the police and even a court order to remove certain claims about the police from its site. Requests that the CMAQ did not answer.


The Montreal Gazette similarly had an article today about the police investigation:

Anarchists suspected in vandal attacks
MAX HARROLD, The Gazette

Montreal police are blaming local anarchists for three recent acts of vandalism, but some familiar with the multi-faceted movement say: "Not so fast."

The incidents - all in the east end - include the slashing of 43 tires on cars at a Mazda dealership Tuesday, fires in three National Bank ATMs on Ontario St. on Sunday and the firebombing of six patrol cars at police Station 23 last Friday.

Total damage is estimated to be about $50,000, police said.

The Collectif Ton Oncle, Collectif Ton Père and someone called Ton Chien posted claims of responsibility on an alternative media website, Montreal police Sgt. Ian Lafrenière said yesterday.

"They're not just attacking the police," Lafrenière said. "They're attacking our way of life here in Montreal."

Francis Dupuis-Déry, a political science professor at the Université du Québec à Montréal, said it might be hasty for the police to blame anyone simply based on the Internet postings.

"One person could have committed these acts," Dupuis-Déry said, and anyone could have posted the claims online.

And anarchists, despite the disorganization that is implied, actually do a lot together, he said.

One of the postings said those targeted at the car dealership were "not citizens. They're not living with recurring debt (and) with rents increasing because of real estate developments and gentrification. They're not living under constant threat of eviction, or with having to make the choice of feeding their children or paying their bills."

Stefan Christoff, 25, a community organizer and anarchist, said: "I have no clue who did those (acts of vandalism). What's more important is social injustice and poverty. That's violence."



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