Sunday, July 17, 2011

Political Arrests in Montréal

Statement from the Canadian Revolutionary Communist Party (not the same as the u.s. Avakian group):

Update (07/13/11): The four individuals who have been arrested and charged went in court last Wednesday. The Crown disclosed its evidence to the defendants. It also asked for a hardening of their release conditions. The hearing was then postponed to Monday, July 18.

Montréal, July 5th — On June 29th, 2011, the Anti-Gang unit of the Montréal Police Service’s Organized Crime Division arrested four political activists —including Patrice Legendre, a communist worker and supporter of the RCP. The police searched their homes and arrested them in connection with the most recent May First demonstration, organized by Montréal’s Anti-Capitalist Convergence (CLAC). Nearly 30 officers were involved in the operation, which occurred early in the day.

According to the investigator who headed the whole operation, nine officers were injured, some seriously, during an altercation at the May First demonstration. More on the demonstration is available in issue 3 of the communist newspaper Partisan. The four activists who were arrested were detained and then released on a promise to appear on July 13 at 9 a.m. at the courthouse in Montréal. They have been charged with a number of offenses, from “assault with a weapon” to “assaulting a police officer,” “obstruction of justice” and “possession of a weapon with intent to cause harm.”

During the May First demonstration in the streets of Montréal, at which nearly 1,500 people were in attendance, the police provoked an altercation by trying to arrest, for reasons unknown, a militant who was widely known as the photographer for Partisan newspaper. As one would expect, dozens of protesters responded by confronting the police, telling them to release the activist they were trying to arrest. Obviously unprepared, the police chose to retreat.

The operation on June 29th was clearly carried out with very little basis. The content of the interrogation to which the arrested activists were subjected as well as the presence of an investigator from the “Integrated National Security Enforcement Team” suggests that there were other motives behind the operation.

First, we can assume the arrests were motivated by revenge, as the police will always want to “get back” at those who cause them to suffer a defeat —as was the case at the May First demonstration, where demonstrators stopped them from arbitrarily and inexcusably arresting one of the activists involved. The cops had egg on their faces and somebody needed to pay for it. Without any evidence to go on, the police decided to go after a few well-known activists, some of whom express their views openly. The demonstration was used as a pretext to criminalize their political involvement and, what’s more, the communist views they defend. Recall that in recent weeks, the RCP began publishing a bilingual, biweekly newspaper, Partisan, and has been distributing it in major cities in Ontario and Québec, and has also started organizing workers in the Revolutionary Workers Movement (Mouvement Ouvrier Révolutionnaire, MRO). Its struggle against capitalism and exploitation is taking new forms and is moving forward, and the police, we can assume, are not fond of that.

Investigators also said they had started monitoring Maison Norman Bethune —a bookstore run by the Information Bureau of the RCP— the day after the May First demonstration. Many activists frequent the bookstore, attending events and getting involved in the cause of revolution. It seems as though the police wanted to “go on a fishing expedition” to find somebody guilty of something so they could draw attention away from their own petty and provocative behavior at the May First Demonstration.

Further, information collected by the RCP Information Bureau suggests the police who carried out these arrests tried to implicate the RCP, and Patrice Legendre in particular, in three previous incidents, including one that happened a year ago in Trois-Rivières, where an explosive device shattered the doors of a recruitment office for the Canadian Forces. A group calling itself “Résistance Internationaliste” claimed responsibility for this act and since it happened the police have not solved the case.

Curiously, the day after the arrests in Montréal, the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team installed a command post for three days in Trois-Rivières across from the recruiting office in order, they said, “to collect new information and validate some leads described as ‘very serious’.” The police then presented pictures of the four arrested activists to the people of Trois-Rivières, hoping somebody could implicate them in one way or another.

The operation on June 29th was no accident. It comes at a time when the bourgeois state in Canada is on the offensive in criminalizing political struggle and the activists who are involved in it. We need only look at the G20 summit in June 2010 in Toronto, where over a thousand people were illegally arrested, to verify this. In recent years, dozens of activists, among them some from the RCP, have been harassed at home and work by the infamous “Integrated National Security Enforcement Team.”

The Revolutionary Communist Party harshly condemns this cowardly operation, which was politically motivated. It is doomed to failure and will backfire on those who planned it. The RCP is actively campaigning to denounce the arrests and obtain full and unconditional release of those arrested. We thank the many individuals and groups who have already expressed their outrage and solidarity following the June 29th arrests.

Denounce political intimidation! Defend our right to fight against the bourgeoisie and its state! Solidarity is our weapon!

The RCP Information Bureau

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