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Francine Lamarche June 12, 2012
The author is the mother of a young 25-year old man who was subject to a search related to a break-in at the University of Montréal.
Thursday, June 7, 6:01am…
There is ringing at the door. That’s rare at this hour… But me, I end up hearing the knocking, and loudly, because I am already in front of the building’s main door, downstairs, with my coffee and my dog, ready for my morning walk. I see through the glass the shadow of several people and they are wearing the insignia of police officers… I am perplexed! Finally, I open the door.
We are at 3471?
Paul Red-Square, that’s here?
Yes. That’s my son.
Come in, ma’am, we have some questions to ask you.
I enter with my dog and my coffee. Shit, this messes up my routine. But I was scared that they would tell me that something had happened to Paul in China, and that he’d had an accident. Thankfully, it wasn’t that…
Is Paul here?
No, he doesn’t live here anymore.
On no? Since when?
Since September of last year. He found himself an apartment not far from here.
Ok guys, you can go tell the others in the alley that they can come in…and that they should park their cars in front…We don’t need them in back anymore. So, he doesn’t live here anymore since last year…He lives with a girl, someone?
A roommate, yes.
Do you have his address?
Yes, yes, somewhere… But I don’t know it by heart.
Would you be able to recognize the place where he lives?
Is he in Europe right now?
No. He’s in China.
Yeah… this is not going well… My informant is not very informed. Ma’am, we have a search warrant for this address. We cannot go search at his actual address. We cannot. Listen… as Paul is 25 years old, we are not supposed to give you this information, but we will tell you… We have a search warrant for here, 3471. He is to be accused of breaking and entering at the University of Montréal in April… and we are looking for a piece of clothing, which would be the proof. We are going to look around the house… You can stay here.
And now, they are nine police officers in my house because the four who were in the alley are now in my kitchen. A woman is amongst the group. I shake her hand by way of complicity… of solidarity… ah, at least there is a woman in the group.
There is no danger, ma’am, you do not need to worry about us.
Ah, well I am not worried… So you want to look around, go ahead, I have no problem with this. I am the picture of calm. I smile at them, answer their question.
Do you know if Paul is good at computers.
Hmmm… I think he is better at Chinese!
Do you know the significance of his tattoos? Like the one on his left thumb? Do you not find that it resembles a mask?
Hmmm… I don’t know, but all of his tattoos are Chinese writings…. They symbolize love, among other things…
Do you not find that the tattoo on his thumb could have something to do with Anonymous?
I start laughing… I am telling you that he is better at Chinese…
No, no…. These are only allegations…
I know that he has several tattoos on both of his arms and on his neck…
Yes, we have a photo of him.
Ah, you have a photo of him? Bring it to me, I will identify him myself, my son Paul. I keep my word.
Yes, that is indeed my son. That’s Paul… he is beautiful, huh? “Hello my dear boy…” I tell him while looking at his photo.
We don’t know when exactly it was taken.
Me, I do know, probably in the past twelve months. September or October of last year.
Actually, we will look around now. Would you look around downstairs to assist us? You are very cooperative ma’am, normally we sit people down on a chair and they don’t have the right to move…Us, we have worked in narcotics, so we enter forcefully and we don’t give them time to go flush whatever it is down their toilets. Here is not the same.
Yes, no problem…
They call their supervisor on the telephone several times. I don’t hear their conversation, but I imagine it…
Boss… we are in a castle here, it’s beautiful, super clean, the “misses” is very cooperative…And not to mention she is very pretty… Paul hasn’t lived here since September, but we are going to rummage anyway? Wow, you should see the garden… Incredible!
Everyone is into Toa, my dog. He is happy. He gets petted by everyone. You’d think it was a family gathering. Toa is happy, he goes from one officer to the other, getting back scratches. He forgets our morning walk.
So we go downstairs and I open the doors, and they rummage. They look in the furnace room. I ask myself if they didn’t look in the washer while I had my back turned… We go back up.
Upstairs, I show them each room… including the room where he slept when he lived here because his move-that-happened-in-September… Oh they are well-informed…
You know ma’am, we don’t know everything. There are people who think we know everything, but that is false. We don’t know everything.
Looking in the closet, there is nothing left. Since his departure I totally redid the room… it’s nice like this, a guest room…
But in any case, I received compliments on my house… The space, the beauty of the place… and the garden, what can I say about the comments on the garden. Here, they also didn’t look into the bottom of the pond to see if Pascal was there, in between the fish, but they did want me to unlock the garage to go give it a look. Nothing. No rats, just my other son’s canvases and my gardening workshop. They nevertheless took the time to read my instructions that are posted on the wall, to know how to get rid of mildew in my lupins…
I stayed outside with the friendly assistant inspector. At least ten minutes of chatting about the garden. It was after that I understood what he was up to. Upon entering, chequing papers for Pascal were on the kitchen island, they were taking photos.
What are these papers doing here?
We found them in the drawer there.
Jesus, they are going through my drawers. Small feeling of invasiveness becomes big! They are going through MY things behind MY back. No, this is too much.
What are these papers, ma’am?
A cheque for an educational scholarship. I deposited it because he is in China.
Ah? Is it a scholarship for excellence?
I like to believe so! He got three scholarships I think I am giggling, here…
I realize that I open my house, my cupboards, my drawers, the doors to the hiding places of all sorts of things. I stay calm. I smile and I think about offering them a coffee, but I hold myself back…
Toa looks like she is telling me: so, are we going or what?
Ok ma’am, as he is in China, he will have to explain himself in front of a judge upon his return. We are not saying he is guilty. Us, we are searching… It will be up to the judge to determine if he is guilty or not. When is his return planned for?
End of August.
He left when?
Ma’am, we will leave you a copy of the search warrant here.
No problem. Do you want to see my casseroles (pots and pans)? They are on my balcony in front…
You know, I also have kids and I don’t want tuition fees to be too high…
Well yes. Paul still has another 4-5 years in school. One year to finish his bachelors and probably another three or four for his masters. I help him with his studies.
Ah, he wants to do a masters?
Well, I believe so, he wants to teach Chinese or be a translator.
We apologize for the inconvenience, ma’am. We will leave, now.
It must be a good hour that they are here. I almost had the impression of being a real estate agent doing an open house! Coming back from my walk with Toa, there was nothing on the kitchen island, no copy of the search warrant. Oh wel…
Ok, they’re off. Me, I don’t realize what is going on here… until I hear the news that 11 search warrants are in progress and that as of 6:00am, police officers presented themselves in different locations, notably in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve. At this point, I start to make the link. It’s a strange feeling!
On the web later, it was written: “All of this is part of a police operation that led to eight searches, involving a total of 11 people, the SPVM [Montreal police] announced. But up until now, only four of them have been arrested. A young man could not be arrested, as he is travelling in Europe.” In China, I told you… he is in CHI-NA. Am I speaking Chinese?
In effect, you have just read the story of nine searches. Not one, nine. It is I who searched their adrenaline, their desire to intimidate…their heads, their nervousness, their haste to catch mister Red-Square. They left sheepishly for another house, where they hoped they could use their power, even their force, their handcuffs and their language on top of their badges, to make it clearly comprehensible that they are the “police”, and that with the police, we do not kid around.
Translated from the original French byTranslating the printemps érable.
*Translating the printemps érable is a volunteer collective attempting to balance the English media’s extremely poor coverage of the student conflict in Québec by translating media that has been published in French into English. These are amateur translations; we have done our best to translate these pieces fairly and coherently, but the final texts may still leave something to be desired. If you find any important errors in any of these texts, we would be very grateful if you would share them with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please read and distribute these texts in the spirit in which they were intended; that of solidarity and the sharing of information.