My trip to jail for reading 1984 on the metro (First-Hand Account)

June 11, 2012

Original French Text:

This Sunday, June 10, 2012, I attempted to take part in a protest-action: over the course of a few hours, I would take the metro back and forth from Berri to Jean-Drapeau station to peacefully protest my disagreement with the Formula 1 Grand Prix, which in my opinion promotes sexism. 

Dressed in a flowered dress and with a bag full of dangerous objects such as an apple, a bottle of water and three books, I wanted to draw attention to the heightened police presence and the actions of the SPVM [Montreal police] who have themselves been like terrorists from the start of this conflict.  I would read George Orwell’s 1984, a novel describing a society overtaken by a police state. 

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Um, police violence trigger warning? For GIFs? Is it possible? From YouTube. If you need a distraction, focus on the rightmost beardo near the upper-left corner. I kept in the moment when the person pushes back at the FTP because it pleases me even though people are probably like “bad idea” but sometimes we just fucking react amirite

The anti-capitalist May Day demonstration in Montréal was good for a while. My group escaped a kettle where over 450 people were held for hours. The last people were released almost nine hours later. Late night at the remote prison!

Lately I have had Many Feelings, much internal strife, but like Kate Nepveu said in How to Discuss Race and Racism Without Acting Like a Complete Jerk, “you are not required to do all of your processing in public”. So this probably won’t be like that time where I made a 9000000 page ’zine!


(It’s far from Ferguson, but while we’re talking about cops…)
Montreal’s blue-collars and cops are in pension negotiation with the municipal and provincial governments.

In the first photograph, (18 August 2014) a blue-collar is vandalizing public property while SPVM cops are turning their backs. He is also wearing a mask, illegal under Law 76.

In the second photo, yesterday SPVM cops turned their backs while blue-collar protesters broke into City Hall, interrupted the municipal council and left a mess behind.

In 2012, during the student protest, the SPVM arrested protesters merely for wearing a mask. People were gassed, beaten and pepper sprayed just for walking in a protest. Personally, I was thrown out of the subway for wearing a red-patch (student protest sign) and [an empty] back-pack when the cops were trying to prevent disruption of the Formula 1 Grand Prix.

Demonstrating a complete inability to understand irony, the SPVM is using the red color for their protest. The same color used by the student protesters the cops were arresting in 2012. Solidarity for me, but not for thee.

1) Jacques Nadeau
2) Sarah Mongeau-Birkett, La Presse

Plus de 120 professeurs issus principalement de l’UQAM et de l’Université de Montréal réclament la tête du directeur du Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM), Marc Parent, et de son porte-parole, Ian Lafrenière. 

Dans une lettre publiée en exclusivité dans notre site Internet, ces professeurs critiquent sévèrement la répression de la manifestation annuelle contre la brutalité policière. En l’espace de quelques minutes, les policiers ont arrêté 288 personnes avant même le départ de la 18e édition de la marche, samedi.

«La police ne tolère tout simplement pas qu’on manifeste pour dénoncer sa brutalité», déplorent les auteurs Marcos Ancelovici et Francis Dupuis-Déri, respectivement professeurs de sociologie et de science politique à l’UQAM.

Cent vingt homologues appuient leurs propos, dont Christian Nadeau et Georges Leroux (philosophie), Céline Bellot (service social), Lucie Lemonde (sciences juridiques) et « l’Anarchopanda », Julien Villeneuve.

Les signataires se demandent ouvertement «s’il est possible de dénoncer la brutalité policière sans en être soi-même la cible».

Witness account of police violence

by Xi Sophie Zhang, medical student at Université de Montréal    May 21, 2012

Original French Text:

My position on the tuition hike and the strike have been clear since the beginning, but that is not what I want to talk to you about.

 On several occasions, people have borne witness to police brutality and the biased coverage the media offers. I always believed it, but last night, I received the incontestable proof.

 Between 9pm and 1am, sitting with a friend from school, my boyfriend, and four friends at Café l’Escalier, which faces Émilie-Gamelin park, we witnessed a terrifying scene!!!

 On the other side of the windows, we watched the game of cat-and-mouse that the media has often described: protestors fleeing, the sound of bombs at their heels, along with police officers, riot police, and the Sureté du Québec.

 As we were having beers and dancing salsa, the air thickened more than once with pepper spray, causing the café customers to cough suddenly. What followed was a horrified silence around our table. The first scene on the sidewalk of the park: a demonstrator fleeing in the direction of the metro, police in pursuit. A first bicycle cop reverses at full speed. A second comes in with his bike. Others jump on and arrest him in the most brutal way imaginable. The second scene, on the same sidewalk: another protestor fleeing, a police officer behind him. BANG: the blow of a nightstick in the back of his neck. He falls brutally. A second agent lifts up his bicycle above the protestor, who is now on the ground: BAM BAM BAM. Bicycle blows land on the immobile body.

 A half hour later, there are still 10 cops encircling him. Everyone in the café is asking, “Why is he still on the ground”? The cops have an air of nervousness about them. They demand that a journalist put away his cameral. Passers-by approach, but stay on the periphery. A particularly enraged cop yells at them to leave and pushes them forcefully. He almost knocks over two observers: it’s pure provocation.

 Minutes pass. The second arrested protestor is still lying on the ground. The number of observers is growing. Finally, an ambulance arrives and we understand: they have severely wounded him. We see the paramedics putting a spinal collar on the man and taking him away on a stretcher. The crowd is enraged. One woman approaches the police, screaming, pointing, and giving them the finger. From the café, we can’t hear her words, but we can see her emotion. We wonder whether she is the friend or parent of the wounded man and tell one another that we would react exactly the same way if it happened to us.

 The salsa is finished. We leave the café and move toward the area of the incident. There are bloodstains on the sidewalk where the man was beaten. Our group of friends, by no means all red squares [translator’s note: supporters of the student strike], is shaking with fear and disgust. One of us is crying. It hurts inside. We wonder whether the demonstration will be reported on in the media the next day.

 Without great surprise, this morning I read La Presse: “In the chaos, no fewer than 305 people were arrested and more than ten injured, one seriously. This was a man in his forties who received a wound to the head while being apprehended at Berri Square. The police had just been attacked when they charged, said their spokesperson.” According to Le Devoir, “There were reports of one serious head injury, but the demonstrator’s life is not in danger.” On Radio-Canada: no mention of the incident.

 That’s all. The police were provoked, the man isn’t going to die. All is well in the world.

 But questions remain that have not been answered. Why arrest demonstrators (considering that their “violence,” 99.9 percent of the time, consists of vandalism and altercations with police, and not real violence against people) using enough force to leave a person paralyzed? Why continue hitting someone who is already lying on the ground? Why intimidate witnesses who aren’t bothering you, unless you have something to hide? And above all, why doesn’t the press ever talk about the motives or the process of arrests, speaking instead only of the events that “justify” the brutality?

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 Please read and distribute these texts in the spirit in which they were intended; that of solidarity and the sharing of information.

Poem for Anthony Griffin


Behind Station 15 in NDG
a cop flashed his Authority
shot Anthony Griffin
– unarmed and black
shot him point blank
a racist attack

Anthony Griffin – 19 now dead
killed by a bullet to his head
“Could have been Arab, Indian
or Latin instead”
killed by a cop
and his racist lead

so it’s
     black / white  
     stand tight
     flash cops
     a red light:
     No more bullets
     No more tears
     No more bloody
     racist jeers

Hey there Mr Policeman
Where did you get your Klan schooling?
From the fragile fraternity
that arms your Authority?

They divide us with lies
deny us our sanity
then under their cover of blue
Terrorize humanity


So who’s protecting whose?
You take us for fools?
The only justice we see
is for the writers of rules

They wrote out Anthony,
the voiceless, the weak
Farshad Mohammadi
killed this week!
They write out each one of us
when we refuse to speak


Like redneck neighbours
our Klan next door
Their racist jokes?
Tolerate them no more!

Like cops loose in the Metro
bugging folks the wrong colour
jabbing them with sticks
Tolerate them no more!

Between jabs and the bullet
see the racist trigger –
the crooked blue finger –
Check it, Break it
before they pull it


- Norman Nawrocki

A poem for Anthony Griffin, shot by Montreal police in 1987, for background read report in Montreal Mirror. Poem is by poet/musician/activist Norman Nawrocki and is adapted to mark the 06/01/2011 shooting death of Farshad Mohammadi at métro Bonaventure in Montreal.

This poem was originally published as a street poster, then in a Rhythm Activism chapbook called Resist Much - Obey Little, Les Pages Noires, 1987. Graphic accompanying poem via celebrated artist Eric Drooker.

Rima Elkouri: The Philosophy Teacher and His Ski Goggles

By Rima Elkouri, published in La Presse, May 30, 2012

Original French Text Here:

“It’s really the nightstick blow that started it all.”

The man who is talking to me in a hoarse voice is named Olivier Roy. He’s 31. Ski goggles are sitting on his table. He’s visibly exhausted. Visibly indignant.

By day, Olivier Roy is a philosophy teacher at CÉGEP de Terrebonne. By night, for more than a month, he has demonstrated against police brutality. He has participated in some thirty marches. He was still out there Tuesday night.

Olivier tells me, almost shyly, that he recently had to buy these ski goggles. Not for skiing, you understand. Neither for confronting the police—that’s not at all his style. But just to be able to demonstrate peacefully without worrying about his eyes. For more than a month, he’s felt too much pepper. He’s seen too many plastic bullets fired, too many concussion grenades that can blind a person. After his marathon of demonstrations, he has arrived at the sad conclusion that a citizen who wishes to protest needs two things; ski goggles and a camera.

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