Extreme Over-Reaction by Montreal Police (SPVM)

Police Pepper Spray St-BockLast night, things got way out of hand during the 26th consecutive nightly protest – which were given new momentum thanks to Jean Charest’s government passing the draconian and over-reaching Law 78. There was a lot to be ashamed of on both sides of the issue (especially these idiots). However, while we do expect citizens to behave within the law (when the law is just), we have an even greater expectation (and a greater need) for the people who enforce the law to respect it. One of the worst incidents that happened last night was the opposite of that – “Montreal’s Finest”™ did something shameful. It was bad enough that the police let things get out of hand (even worse that it’s essentially the government who fanned the flames of this one), but what happened at Bar St-Bock deserves special investigation and possible disciplinary measures if not criminal charges.

You can read about it in the Montreal Gazette here or, on CBC’s website here. Here’s a summary from these articles:

  • Police go looking for a suspect who is yelling insults at them from a patio at a bar on St-Denis
  • While attempting to pull the suspect out, someone threw a plastic chair at the police (an obviously dumb move)
  • The police react by first shooting someone at near point blank with a tear gas canister (this is the same thing that almost blinded someone earlier last month)
  • The police then throw the same chair back at the crowded patio
  • The police then proceed by ransacking the place, knocking over all of the tables and chasing away all the bars patrons, breaking the tables, dishes and other property.
  • Also for good measure, police spray pepper spray into the faces of two people who are 7-10 feet away, clearly not threatening anyone.

While this behaviour is disgusting enough, the police then try to defend their actions by claiming that they had a chair thrown at them. I went and had a look at the chairs at the bar this afternoon after the story broke – it’s a typical plastic chair that weights probably about 5-7 pounds. Now, while I agree that whoever threw it deserved to be arrested and/or fined – however, realistically this chair would probably not have any impact on a police officer in full riot gear. However, when the officer threw it back into a crowd of panicked people (who just got shot at with a CS canister), that could have easily caused harm. This sort of thing should not be tolerated – the police need to respect the law and act as professionals, and they’re clearly not doing this.

You can see two videos of this, one of them from the bar’s security camera (as per the photo above), and the other from a distance by CTV’s camera cover the event, as well as the official police response to these allegations on CTV’s website (look to the top right of the article), as well as the owner of the bar in an interview on Radio-Canada (French only). In this interview, he states that while he fully understands and respects that the police have a very tough job, what they did in this case was unwarranted and over the top. He also stated that he is considering legal action (and I hope he sues and wins).

Another interview of the bar owner is on YouTube here (also only in French)

Jean Charest and his government need to be held responsible for this, as well as the small number of instigators and the small numbers of police who misbehave. As the FAE poster created earlier this week says (Jean Charest – Shame has a Face):

Jean Charest - Shame has a Face

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