Tuesday, June 12, 2012
The Quebec Students and the Little Red Square
The Grand Prix of Montreal is finally over, and sadly my favourite driver Anarcho Panda, the gentle mascot of the student movement, didn't win.
And although there were a lot of red squares and red Ferrari shirts at the race.
If you wore a red square anywhere near the Grand Prix activities you risked being searched, detained, and politically profiled.
Montreal police are being accused of political profiling — of searching and detaining people wearing the red square, the symbol of Quebec's protest movement.
"We're talking about systematic searches in the subway and in the streets of people who were wearing the red square. It's extremely worrying for our democracy."
Police deny that of course. But how can they explain what happened to two Le Devoir reporters when they headed to a Metro station wearing red squares?
The journalists cooperate, but ask a question for each question they get asked. Why search us? “Because you’re wearing a revolutionary symbol,” replies an officer, visibly annoyed, “and because I’m sick of people like you.”
“The organizers don’t want you here.” The SPVM, today, is serving the needs and wants of the organizers of the Grand Prix? “Exactly,” says badge number 5323, repeating it proudly a second time when we ask again.
They can't. Nobody can. It's madness. Or a third rate production of Big Brother.
But then the police are just trying to enforce the absurd, quasi-fascist Bill 78, that Jean Charest is hoping will stir up so much social chaos, he can call a snap election before a big inquiry into corruption can further discredit his government.
And he's so desperate for that to happen he's sounding a lot like our other Great Emperor Leader.
What we have seen over the last few weeks is more than just dealing with tuition fees, it's extreme leftist groups who are trying to intimidate people through violence," Charest told reporters at the economic conference. He added that some of the protesters were anarchists.
"We are going to do everything to make sure that people are secure," he said. "We're not going to give in to any intimidation or violence."
Even though while a handful of the usual suspects have thrown things at police, and broken some windows, in more than four months of protests none of the demonstrations have come even close to a riot.
And the violence has been overwhelmingly one-sided...
The good news is that with the Grand Prix circus over, this kind of violence should subside. Charest won't get the social chaos he craves. And losing a riding the Liberals have held for almost half a century may make him think twice about an election.
I also sense that both sides are exhausted. Almost everybody wants a break. So I expect that the protests will become smaller and quieter, at least until the students return in the fall.
But the protests WILL continue. Because now the movement is not just about lower tuition rates, or a quasi-fascist bill, it's also about the kind of society we want to live in, and the struggle for a better world.
That's why they hate that red square or carré rouge so much. That's why in the darkness of Harperland I wear it so proudly.
Who knew such a simple symbol could be so powerful eh?
It has been a brutal struggle.
But the red square LIVES...
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