By Joëlle Dussault, MA Candidate in Sociology at UQAM and researcher for the Commission populaire sur la repression politique
Originally published on: December 29, 2014
See original French version here: http://plus.lapresse.ca/screens/9df1b8e0-5df5-4abb-b937-b573c954d24b%7C_0.html
“The more they cut, the more cops they put out there”; a well-known protest slogan from the last few years. At the dawn of 2015, this simple expression becomes fully realized. At the moment that groups of all kinds are mobilizing to fight against the austerity measures being imposed on all public services in the past few years, there is one that, to the contrary, is on the rise.
Between 2004 and 2013, the annual budget of the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) grew by more than 241 million dollars (budgetary document 2004, 2013 SPVM). From 2004 to 2014, 634 more police officers were authorized in the territory of Montreal (annual reports, 2004, 2013 SPVM).
The SPVM has also equipped itself with two sound canons that can project up to 143 decibels costing, respectively, $6000 – $12 000. And that is without mentioning Thunder 1, the armored truck worth $364 606 that the SPVM recently acquired. What will be the toy of 2015? All bets are off!
With the help of monetary investments and various regulations (the highway code, municipal, etc.), the protest ban has little by little been inserted into public discourse to the point of becoming banal.
But what are the groups who are mobilising denouncing? As has been the case in the latest large-scale demonstrations in Québec, they are denouncing austerity and the arbitrary power of law enforcement. We are mobilizing a disproportionate number of police officers for hours to do mass arrests. These arrests congest the judicial system only to end up dismissed due to lack of evidence. We create squads like GAMMA, which is so politically oriented that it is being sued for being unconstitutional.
At a time when the entirety of our social services, community groups and civil service are having their means of survival cut in the name of austerity, the state is choosing to invest in the repression against these very same people who are being subjected to the compressions.
More than ever, the people who are challenging to regime of increasing austerity measures are being muzzled by any possible means.
These interventions highjack groups from their cause. By having to fight to be able to protest, these groups exhaust themselves. When all their time was already mobilized towards finding funding that is going extinct, the constraints on political expression made by law enforcement attempt to make them invisible. Political Repression therefore has a double cost: it slows down political life and it uses public fund to create all sorts of means of restriction.
When the city will be silent, they will have succeeded, at the cost of millions, to quiet dissent.
Those who will be repressed during the spring of 2015 will be people who consider austerity to be the choice of a political elite in synergy with an economic elite. These people who conceive of society as a space in which projects and debates can nurture our collective life will find themselves confronted with a unilateral discourse extolling security measures and neoliberal economics.
And yet, what these people are saying on all their platforms is extremely simple and completely legal: “austerity is a choice that we are not making.”
Translated from the original French by Language and Dissent, a collectively-run blog supporting the anti-austerity struggle in Quebec. These are amateur translations written by volunteers; we have done our best to translate these pieces fairly and coherently, but the final texts may have their flaws. If you find any important errors in any of these texts, we would be very grateful if you would share them with us via email (languageanddissent [at] gmail [dot] com). Please read and distribute these texts in the spirit in which they were intended; that of solidarity and the sharing of information.