By Virginie Chaloux-Gendron
Originally published on March 27, 2015
See original French text here: https://www.facebook.com/virginie.cg.58/posts/1743064052586694?fref=nf
Tonight, I experienced my first “real” protest. I thought that it would be relaxed, that all would go well. Me and my enormous naiveté. At the beginning everything was ok; the police marched alongside us, without anymore more. Then, they started charging, blinding, asphyxiating. At the Place du Canada, it was chaos. It was crazy everywhere. In the middle, on the sides, in front, in back. Explosions; too much noise, too much light. People were running everywhere, trapped.
I would like to reiterate my thanks to [nearby restaurant] Jimmy Guaco’s for having welcomed us with open arms, with glasses of water and smiles. It was the first time that my body trembles, it was the first time that I looked at my boyfriend and told him, “my love, I can’t breathe any more, I can’t see anything. It burns.” It was the first time that he was powerless, as he himself could not breathe either. All of this, why? We are still looking for the reason. Everything was happening in a peaceful manner; we were doing nothing, other than marching for our rights.
The vans of the riot squad, the police officer who were advancing, shield in hand, baton in hand, tear gas grenades in hand, the ketlles. Ayoye, I hurt so much inside. To say that we still think that the photo and video montages come from protesters. Since when do we not have the right to be in the street? Powerlessness, with a big “P”.
At the beginning, I was sad to note that the police found themselves at an arm’s length from us; I was sad to note that we were going down the same path but taking opposite directions. And then that sadness made way for anger. Change is not made by gluing “stickers” on your shin guards.
At last. I now have the greatest respect for all the activists, those who have been fighting for a long time, those who are holding the fort. Respect, in capital letters. To all those who, very often, come together with ideologies different from theirs and who stay standing, even if it means not agreeing with their parents, grandparents, and sometimes even their friends.
Tonight, I understood.
Tonight, it was the first time that I was scared to walk in the streets of my city.
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.