Monday, January 26, 2009

Montreal's Shit-Eating Pigs Have Thin Skin

If the Montreal Police Brotherhood get their way, reading the title of this post aloud may become a ticketable offense in Montreal.

At least, that's what today's news portends. It would seem that the Brotherhood is planning to get a bylaw passed that will allow police to fine people who insult them. Who defines what is insulting, and what contexts this law will be applied it, remain to be seen.

"La police au service des riches et des fascistes" is certainly in the running. [A popular Montreal slogan at Montreal demos: "the police work for the rich and the fascists."]

This latest move by the Brotherhood comes on the heels of the new anti-mask law, which we all learned about for the first time a week ago, and which is set to be passed by the City Council tonight. The anti-mask law will make it a ticketable offense to wear a mask at a demonstration - though the police have magnaminously allowed that it would not be imposed on people wearing face coverings for religious reasons or to protect themselves against the weather.

Only against those of is who might dare to protect ourselves aand our friends from the police.

The Montreal Police Brotherhood - the cops' union - is, like most police unions, an aggressive opponent of oppressed people and the left. Indeed, it is an oppressor in its own right. The Brotherhood's officials routinely speak up in support of killer cops in the media, and often take things further - for instance they are set to appear in court this week to demand a halt to a coroner's inquiry into the 2005 police killing of Mohamed Anas Bennis. That's right: Quebec's Chief Coroner is to be gagged, told that she is not allowed to investigate this police killing. (Court solidarity and a demo against this attempt at censorship is scheduled this Thursday: see here!)

Think this is just hubris on their part, and unlikely to work? Think again: last year a similar coroner's inquest was successfully put on ice by the Brotherhood, using similar legal bullying tactics. In 2003 Michel Berniquez was arrested by a pack of six cops, he had his head slammed into the pavement, and was held face down on the ground for half an hour. Later that night, while in lock-up, he died. While this information came out in an initial coroner's report, a more fullblown inquiry which was planned was blocked by the Police Brotherhood's court action last June.

So why these recent moves by the Brotherhood?

Well partly, it's just doing what it is "supposed to" do - defending the police, who themselves are charged with defending this rotten capitalist order.

But partly the latest moves to invent bylaws to criminalize traditional protest culture - masks, insults - as well as the City Council's seeming willingness to rubber stamp these new rules - should perhaps be seen in light of the new cycle of struggle which we hope to see emerge from capitalism's latest crisis.

The recession is already swelling the ranks of the discontented. Not just sections of the unionized labor aristocracy who are being pushed down, but more importantly the working class, including most especially in Montreal the immigrant working class which already reminded folks of its potential in the rebellion following Fredy Villanueva's murder last summer.

While in the united states a lot of this discontent may be chanelled into support for the "progressive Obama administration" - at least for fifteen minutes or so - there is no similar carrot being waved here in Quebec, where a (neo-)Liberal provincial government rules alongside the Conservative federal one.

i think it's well likely that the Police Brotherhood's latest moves amount to their upping the ante before we can, giving themselves some of the tools they will need to clamp down on what might be promising times ahead.

& remember: other cops in other cities will be watching, and if they succeed in doing this here, they'll be sure to do it elsewhere too...

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