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We are the 99 percent

Night Falls, Power Rises, in Montreal

Posted 9 years ago on May 30, 2012, 12:04 p.m. EST by OccupyWallSt

by Cindy Milstein


A week ago last Sunday night, I was sitting around a table at a friend’s house with two other friends in the Plateau East neighborhood of Montreal, having a quiet & delicious dinner after the Anarchist Bookfair weekend, when at 8 pm, we heard the singular noise of someone banging on a pot in the nearby distance, then two, and maybe three or four. My friend got up to peak around the corner, to see which of his neighbors was making the noise, telling us that there was a Facebook call to bang pots & pans in solidarity with the student strike (as it turns out, it was a professor’s idea, and he did indeed post a FB page for it).

Last night, May 27, that same friend and I met up with other friends at the “usual” corner on Mont-Royal near St-Denis on the Plateau West side of this Montreal neighborhood. At first a handful came, right at 8 pm, like us, and then dozens, growing quickly to hundreds. It was my second night at this intersection, near to the home of another friend, and already I recognized most of the faces, and people nodded at each other, and more of them talked to each other (and my two friends and others are busily organizing toward their first neighborhood popular assembly this coming Saturday).

As we moved from crossing with the light, to crossing at the traffic light, to finally taking the intersection, a group of young children–barely teens–among the many young children on the streets with us, decided to lead a breakaway march, skirting past the police car that had now arrived to “help” us manage the traffic. We adults quickly ran after them, laughing, as our children at the front lead us for some 15 minutes away from that cop car again and again, turning a corner at the last minute to allude the police, and when we got to a big road, the kids took over the other side too, at one point nearly encircling a second police car to ensure we could all get ahead of the police! And soon we turned a corner and that, voile, was another band of casserolers, and soon we ran across another, and then our big casserole met another huge casserole at a main intersection, and everyone raised their pots & pans in unison to joyfully greet each other. The police couldn’t keep up with us, neither children or adults, or bikes or dogs, wheelchairs or skateboards.


Hours later, after marching with thousands and thousands of people who never stopped banging on the asundry metal noisemakers as we snaked our way for miles through Montreal, past tiny stickers of red or with words on street signs and lampposts, or big swathes of radical graffiti slogans, it was hard to tell whether our legs or ears hurt more–or as my Plateau East friend said, Emma Goldman may have wanted a revolution to dance to, but this “walking” revolution is hard on the feet! Then we looked at each other and marveled how, just a mere week ago, there were four lone pots beating out a tune of solidarity & disobedience & freedom in his neighborhood, and now, so few days later, young children are teaching themselves rebellion, and as another friend said to me on the street, we anarchists are struggling to catch up to what the tens of thousands of people are doing here in Montreal. He too marveled: “And to think I was thinking of moving away from Montreal a year ago. This has been the best year of my life already!”


Of course, much as the police and politicians have, for the time being, lost control of this city, they struggle each night to figure out new ways to police and control their out-of-their-control uprising. Last night, that involved this unusually tall and lengthy, sparkling-white oversize van–nearly a truck–with few windows, and those windows blackened so we couldn’t see it. This truck-van appeared out of nowhere behind us, swerved toward a building wall, and equally oversize riot-type police jumped out, pushing someone against the wall, grabbing him, throwing him in the van, and whisking away. Some cops next to us on horses (we were, at that point, at the back of the thousands-of-people casseroles-march) said something about a new “Intervention” unit, and then “helpfully” told us to move in front of him, so he could “protect us” in case of “an explosion.”

Some 20 minutes or so later, as the demonstration was nearing a point that would signal the end for many of us–near a Metro, for some, and near our still-long-walk home, for us–that van-truck appeared again. I tried to capture a photo of it, but my cell phone isn’t the best of cameras, especially as the van-truck started speeding toward us, flying past another new police vehicle labeled “technical.” We conjectured about whether they were gathering “intelligence” on us, listening in to cell phones, tracking people via their cell phone GPS, or putting out incorrect info.

loi 78 est guerre

For instance, the SPVM police maintain a “friendly” lie-filled Twitter, with the supposedly calming slogan “Always closer,” and they used it last night to deny nearly beating a man to death, also just over a week ago, when people took control of a stretch of St.-Denis to build barricades and fend off the cops. Counter reports from witnesses and those involved in this uprising are that this man is still in a hospital, in a coma, potentially paralyzed and brain damaged. People used this Twitter access to the police to last night ask them again and again about this beating, and the police again and again assured people everything was OK. But there are video images of the man being beaten, first to the ground by one cop, and then again, by another, after he’s on the ground. And an eyewitness mentioned she saw the second cop use his bike as a weapon in the beating. Indeed, last week, when we were on the street during the St.-Denis uprising on that evening, a woman came up to us to say a man had died; that she herself had seen him lying on the ground, not moving, for 20 minutes. We were skeptical, thinking the street takeover would have turned into an outright riot, if someone had died. Now, a mere week later, it seems the police have potentially destroyed yet another life.

All to say, the joy of watching preteens defy the authority of the state, so adroitly and swiftly, with such confidence, under the approving eye of thousands of us adults, has to balanced by the presence of that same authority, even if cowed for the moment, lurking in vans and shadows, strategizing somewhere in bureaucratic offices, trying to figure out how to win this cat-and-mouse (or cat-and-anarchopanda) game of communizing Montreal, whether they end up using brute force or carrot-and-stick for the students–or both.


It’s 7 pm, an hour before this evening’s casseroles slowly but surely but noisely begins again, at the “usual” corner of Mont-Royal, where tonight my friend will hand out flyers about the popular assembly to be held in a neighborly neighborhood park this weekend (for the parks here are still far less “privatized,” and much more anarchic and community oriented, than many in the United States). Tomorrow, another friend, the one who is glad he didn’t move away, is helping to initiate “Nos-Casseroles for justice for low-wage immigrant and placement-agency (day-laborer) workers” in another neighborhood, and a day or two ago, the Rosemont neighborhood held its first assembly–150 people, who broke into four working groups.


Last night, a friend mentioned how it was important that we go to these street manifestations, night after night, because they evidence the determination and anger, and hopefully the dreams too, of this movement that currently has power-together in its grasp. I realized, as I walked for another five hours last night, how cynical I’ve grown about marches in the United States. We scream in front of banks, chant as we walk, proudly hold banners and signs, make noise and reclaim the streets and sidewalks temporarily–but the contrast here is: there’s really social power behind those same acts now, and everyone knows it. The question, which everyone also seems to know, is what to do with that power–hence the move to kick off neighborhood assemblies and put out calls for people to come greet, meet, and disrupt the impending, lucrative Gran Prix in early June. Meanwhile, the power seems to just keep growing.

Each night here, I see the differences, even if subtle, from people walking by on the streets at 5 pm with pots and pans clearly in their backpacks; stores putting red squares on their merchandise on display in the windows; indeed, more and more red squares, large and small, hanging off more and more balconies; restaurant workers and others stuck in dreary low-paid jobs come out of those jobs to bang pots for a few minutes as the big casseroles marches pass by; and last night, we saw people in an expensive hotel in downtown Montreal holding big red squares in the windows high above us, raising their arms in silent cheer to our noisy answer from the street below.

greve general

(Photos by me, or rather my cell phone, save for the graffiti photo, thanks to Jonathan Leavitt)




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[-] 3 points by shadz66 (19985) 9 years ago

Fantastic !!! Canadians seem to be shifting up through the gears and you've got to admire, love and respect that !! Even the kids are on to it !

per aspera ad astra ...

[-] 0 points by RealityTime (-224) 9 years ago

These poor Canadians. For the love of God, when will their suffering stop? LOL.

Middle class people begging for more subsidy as though it truly does just fall out of the sky. This is how Greece happened.

[-] 0 points by Odin (583) 9 years ago

I applaud them shadz. I just wish we had more of that spirit here, and i think we may be becoming diverted onto a path where we may win the battle, but.........

[-] 0 points by shadz66 (19985) 9 years ago

Your concerns are not without foundation. Further, please consider :

at spes non fracta ....

[-] 2 points by rutgers797 (37) from Wall, NJ 9 years ago

Keep in mind that most of those doing harm to society in powerful positions actually believe that they're doing the right thing. Soon they will see the light though. We don't need to waste time with negative energy by blaming them, but we can focus on how we can shift to a new paradigm that connects us to our fellow human beings and Mother Earth!

[-] 2 points by rutgers797 (37) from Wall, NJ 9 years ago

The world is finally waking up :-)

[-] 2 points by Bighead1883 (285) 9 years ago

News from Occupy Melbourne,Australia.The OM Community have been very active in sharing links and sharing their opinions on the extradiction of Julian Assange to Sweden.

There is an event tomorrow night in support of this.

OM Facebook Likes on the rise

Source: Occupy Melbourne Facebook Page (Official)

Whilst this is not a record for the most amount of likes, it certainly is a positive sign that interest again is on the increase on the 99% rising up and rebuilding a fair, just and democratic world.

Occupy Melbourne, 2011

Source: Submitted by Occupy Melbourne supporter, Tate S.

"This is a letter I found sitting on the ground at the Treasury Gardens yesterday.

I opened it up and it was to Occupy Melbourne written on the day after the Eviction, october 22nd.

This letter magically happened to be written by Rex Pirie (Rex was a teacher at my High School in Wangaratta, he became the vice principal after I finished - I found it very synchronistic that I happened to pick it up in a park I resided at for a few weeks) :) and I want to share it with the 99%."

We made these people. We gave birth to these kids. We raised them. We taught them to walk, to speak, to think, to debate, to challenge. We helped teach them to appreciate their good fortune to be born into a democracy and a free and tolerant society; we helped give them the voice to challenge us to make us all stronger and better. Yes, I'm proud that we did that.

I went to the City Square on Saturday 15th October and watched their demonstration form. I went there on Thursday 20th to get to know who they were, what their story was; why they were there; what they wanted; how they were going about it.

I walked in, a stranger in a suit; I was welcomed, offered food and water. People spoke to me, I talked to them, and they explained to me what they were doing and why.

I realised that they were all kids - I call them kids because as a parent, and nearly 50 years old, they are kids to me. My kids. Your kids. Our kids. I saw a community of young adults. That's when I chose to offer to help. I have a car, time, resources. I drove around town with some of them that night collecting donations of furniture.

They asked me about ways to set up delegations of the mandate of the General Assembly for the authority and accountability of a subcommittee to manage the finances of the group. They had received about $1,000 in donations and wanted to make sure they had an equitable, democratic and accountable system in place to use it.

They told me about how they wanted to establish good liaisons with the police. They told me about how every member of the community was delegated to be a police and public liaison person. They staunchly had no leader. They decided everything after discussion at frequent and regular General Assemblies.

At the core of every conversation I heard a clear and simple set of moral principles; equality, equity, justice, compassion and generosity. They expressed these values with passion, humour, politeness and showed more trust than fear, more humour than anger, more hope than cynicism.

I am proud I helped and saw how they operated. I was proud to see a peaceful and democratic community come together in the very heart of our city.

I arrived on Friday 21st morning to see our kids herded into a small square fenced in with 2 metre high barricades. Lined up in front of them were about 50 riot police equipped with helmets, shields and batons. Surrounding all of this were hundreds of police.

These are our kids: the product of all our love and efforts standing in the rain like cattle while their camp was being destroyed, smashed and thrown into garbage trucks. Our kids were surrounded by police in the middle of our city.

I spoke to members of the police cordon; one asked me if I was with the media. I was dressed in a suit carrying a bag - I could have passed for media. So I said I was and I was allowed through to stand with the other media. The police cordon was keeping all people away - allowing no one in. I asked a police what they were going to do. When? Why? Where to? How? None of them knew or would tell me. They were 'just waiting for orders'.

Then the police moved in and started picking out 'leaders' and dragging them out of the group. They forced the community out onto Swanston St. If the strategy on the part of the police was to disperse the community they significantly underestimated the community's cohesiveness. The police clearly did not understand what they were dealing with.

Young people had been arrested, kids bloodied, hurt. The community reformed in the intersection of Collins and Swanston and sat down. They sang and chanted and drew themselves back together. They protected each other, supported and grew stronger in the face of violence. They were exposed in the middle of the street, surrounded by police, police cars, vans, mounted police and police with dogs.

I was part of a crowd of hundreds who stayed to serve as witness and document this. Citizens who each contribute in our little ways to the society that serves and protects us. Our city, our police and our kids.

I was witness to brutality, violence, stupidity and ignorance. Our society failed me. Our society failed our kids. I stood witness to the integrity of a democratic movement being trampled, attacked and charged by mounted police in my city.

The police charged, led by 6 mounted officers, and forced the community up Swanston St. The police cordon forced the witnesses along the footpath, pushing, punching, and violently threatening us. People like me, witnesses like me.

This community of young people are our kids. They are our young people. They are the future. We should never have to stand as witnesses to them being treated brutally, violently in our city. They should not have been treated this way.

My face twisted, tears welled up, a lump formed in my throat and stomach and made me sick as I saw people we raised; expressing the ideals we taught them in the city we gave them, be brutally treated. No one should ever see a society turn on its own kids this way.

Our politicians showed no understanding, no compassion, and no imagination. Whoever directed the police showed no strategy, they underestimated the community and caused the disruption to the city.

I am not proud of our leaders and the police.

Our young people showed strength, patience, bravery, compassion, integrity and never lost sight of the cause. Their chants and songs continued to show us where the real strength of democracy lies.

Their peaceful actions, their passive resistance, remind us where true strength lies.

We who took the time to understand them, witnessed their community come together, saw it develop, and then stand up under the most violent treatment should be proud of our young people.

I am proud of them.

Image of the day

Source: unofficial Occupy Melbourne discussion page

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 9 years ago

The enemy is any and all corrupted politicians that work against the interests of the people. All politicians that support profit over people to the detriment of society and our world have got to go.

[-] 0 points by Odin (583) 9 years ago

The problem is, that would be about 98% of them.

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 9 years ago

Plenty to work on when you just start a quality program.

Continuous Process Improvement.

It gets hard to find things to improve once you have worked the process faithfully for awhile and really get it going.

But there is always plenty to watch and maintain.

Our 1st step is:

The enemy is any and all corrupted politicians that work against the interests of the people. All politicians that support profit over people to the detriment of society and our world have got to go.

[-] 0 points by Odin (583) 9 years ago

Just about all of the pols have scummy records, and any of them that are in the two party system who run against them have allegiance to one of the two corrupted parties. It's a game that I refuse to play.

We should emulate what the people in Quebec are doing big time. Do you think that draconian Bill 78 will be repealed up there? I would put money on it. And it will happen because people are angry, and will not take that kind of assault on their freedoms lying down, and I would also bet that nobody is talking about voting. As indicated by the commment from the guy whose lived in in Montreal for 46 years, all the divisions including party, and nationality (French or English mostly) have been set aside. It is about unity for common cause now. That is the spirit that we need here, not more partisan politics.

[-] 0 points by Odin (583) 9 years ago

That was a beautiful, but sad story BH. It should make us all think. thank You for sharing it.

I bet the draconian bill 78 gets repealed, and the tuition increases get reduced. We have a lot to learn from these Quebecers.

[-] 1 points by Bighead1883 (285) 9 years ago

Youre welcome.We are still waiting for the high courts human rights outcome over Occupy Melbourne.Its been months since the court case.Let`s hope nothing fishy is going on Odin.

[-] 0 points by Odin (583) 9 years ago

I hope it goes well for you. Many people here, including me have lost faith in our judicial system

[-] 3 points by Bighead1883 (285) 9 years ago

Odin this is not for me personally,it relates to the above letter and the human rights aspect.Whats been questioned is whether the Melbourne City Council and the Victoria Police violated basic human rights in the harassment,eviction and arrest of peaceful protesters.This High Court case will have world wide ramifications because a win for Occupy Melbourne would be the first of this kind in a Western Democracy.So in saying ,this would be a win for all Occupy World Street.Solidarity.PS,pardon the OWS pun,but this protest has outgrown its Wall Street roots as it should.

[-] 0 points by Odin (583) 9 years ago

I hope WE win. Solidarity my friend.

[-] 1 points by MarkNC (3) from Greensboro, NC 9 years ago

Solidarity from Raleigh/Greensboro

[-] 1 points by MarkNC (3) from Greensboro, NC 9 years ago

Solidarity from Raleigh/Greensboro



[-] 0 points by Odin (583) 9 years ago

If more people both in, and out of Occupy Wall St had the CAJONES that the people in Quebec have, this movement would be a lot further along. Instead, we waste our days arguing about partisan politics.

[-] 0 points by Jplabre (1) 9 years ago

The man that was brutally beaten by the police (with testimony a girl gave about a second police officer beating him with his bike) is actually alive and well! He's not even in the hospital but in Quebec city right now though everyone on the web seems to think he's dead. Here is an article with a video of him saying he is fine and was touched by the out-pour of support! (On a personal note I really don't like how the video is cut short) http://www.lapresse.ca/actualites/dossiers/conflit-etudiant/201205/29/01-4529847-manifestant-fantome-vivant-et-surpris.php