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Marc-André Cyr August 28, 2012
Original French Text: http://voir.ca/marc-andre-cyr/2012/08/28/la-democratique-invisibilite-de-la-matraque/
It has begun again… At Université de Montréal, officers of the riot squad are forcing teachers into giving their classes, filming students, threatening, sequestering, and making arrests . They are even using kettling tactics at a general assembly and barring journalists from entering. Those who have been closely following the strike are now accustomed to these scenes… However, and we are also very familiar with this yes-man rhetoric, it’s the students who are being accused, once again, of “violence and intimidation”.
In the rather tawdry flyer, the Journal de Montréal, it was stated this morning that
“At UdeM, despite the police presence around the Jean-Brillant pavilion, at least four classes have been disrupted by demonstrators.
A group of students had even barricaded itself in one of the building’s rooms. The SPVM had to intervene by virtue of the Criminal Code, given that allegations of misdemeanors had been reported to the authorities. Nineteen people have been placed under police surveillance” .
And in the pages of the Liberal party’s official bulletin, La Presse
“As part of the start of the new university semester, the SPVM is also present at UQAM in order to ensure that the return to classes goes smoothly.
On Monday, the return to classes gave way for some rare and upsetting scenes: officers were forced to go into university hallways. This is what happened at Université de Montréal, where the SPVM intervened in virtue of Law 12, at the administration’s request, to stop 18 people ”.
Why did a group of students “barricade” itself in a room? The story does not state it, but it’s very likely there was something to “disturb”, to “assault”, or to “intimidate” in there.
Why did the SPVM intervene within the university’s walls? That’s a funny question: it “had to intervene”, the police officers were “forced” to intervene. And why? Well frankly: “to ensure that the return to classes goes smoothly”.
To pass or not to pass
Do you know the smuggler’s test?
It’s based on this little story…
A young woman stays at her lover’s too late. If she doesn’t go home to sleep, her husband will beat her to death. She must get home as quickly as possible. To do so, she must cross a river. Yet an assassin prowls near the bridge, plucking off anyone who dares go near it. Luckily, a smuggler, in exchange for some remuneration, escorts those who wish to cross. The young woman has no money. She asks her lover to lend her some. He refuses, as he wishes to jealously keep her by his side. She then asks some friends, who also refuse due to stinginess. She therefore begs the smuggler, as a last resort, who also refuses her, because she cannot afford to entire fee.
Finally, the young woman attempts to cross alone.
And the assassin kills her.
Who is responsible for her death? The smuggler? The husband who beat her? Her lover? Her stingy friends? Everyone to some extent?
Generally, people forget about the responsibility that lies with… the assassin. He, just like the river which cannot be crossed without a bridge, is considered a natural element in the equation.
Quebec has been submitted to this test over the past few months. And it’s plain to see that responses validate the relevance of this little fable.
Just like the character of the assassin in the smuggler’s test, police violence takes the role of the “natural element”. Generally, the word “violence” is not even used to talk about police “operations”. The term used is rather that of “keeping the peace”. Worse yet: not only do we refuse to attribute the responsibility for the violence to those who monopolize it, we accuse those who suffer it to be its vehicle.
In other words, the question “who is responsible for the death of the young woman?” is answered with “the young woman”.
After all, it’s normal that her lover would want her by his side, it’s his right, which has been upheld by the court. Incidentally, the fact that she has a lover speaks volumes about her concept of faithfulness. Would her values be at odds with those of our democracy? Honest people don’t go out at night, everyone knows that, and they don’t wear masks if they have nothing to hide.
As for her husband who supposedly beats her, what tells us that it is not self-mutilation? We’ve seen that often… Besides, if she was really battered, legal recourses are available to her. She just had to press charges. Do you remember that young man who lost an eye in Victoriaville? Well wouldn’t you know, dear friends, that to this day, we have no proof that this accident had been caused by the forces of order. Who’s to say that it’s not a member of the Black Bloc who yanked out his eye? Well, let’s be patient and moderate, justice will be dealt: the police inquiry carried out by the police will soon tell us if the police’s actions were in line with the police force’s code of ethics.
Everything is in order.
Let us add that the young woman’s friends were not obligated to help her, it’s up to each individual to assume his or her own responsibilities. She wishes to dangerously lead an adventurous life? All the good that will do her… Only she shouldn’t be bullying others for her own choices. It is her responsibility.
As for the smuggler, it’s completely natural that he would ask for remuneration for his services. All work deserves a salary and everyone must do his or her “fair share”, especially these days.
As for the assassin, he simply does not exist. In a democracy, assassins are under lock and key. The young lover probably invented the story in order to draw attention to herself. Typical of a woman her age.
 Many testimonies confirm it, including this one: http://me.voir.ca/blandineparchemal/2012/08/28/lettre-au-recteur-de-luniversite-de-montreal/
 Journal de Montréal, August 27 2012.
 La Presse, August 28 2012. Note that La Presse is wrong: the SPVM did not intervene at UQAM.
Translated from the original French by Translating 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.