I Predict a Riot
August 22, 2007 7:20 AM   Subscribe

 
Jaggi Singh, mentioned in the article, is quite infamous in Canada. He was more or less kidnapped by the police so he couldn't take part in a protest during the 1997 APEC conference.

[via Torontoist, which has a bit more information.]
posted by chunking express at 7:22 AM on August 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Seems more like violent anarchists like to wear police boots. Who knew?
posted by b1tr0t at 7:27 AM on August 22, 2007


It's kind of ironic that we call this kind of behavior on the part of police "authoritarian". If they really cared about authority, they'd obey the laws themselves. It's really just plain thuggery.
posted by DU at 7:28 AM on August 22, 2007


Par for the course.
posted by asok at 7:40 AM on August 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


I signed up for this account just so I could post this, then figured out I needed to wait a week.

The way they just stand there awkwardly after he accuses them, and then try and squeeze through the police line, as if they expect to just be let in, then are arrested without any real fight without having accomplished any actual protesting.

I'd believe they're cops pretty easily.

In the video, at the beginning, it seems like the "Black Bloc" guys are yelling 'Policier' at the line of peaceful protesters blocking the riot cops, but in fact they're pointing out that the three "anarchists" aren't part of their group, but are police.

Their "anarchist costumes" aren't even convincing. It seems like they didn't take five minutes to notice the differences between the way that ghetto thugs dress and the way that anarchist black bloc protestors dress.

One of the woman in the line is Maude Barlow, chairperson of the Council of Canadians. She's not what I'd call a pinko nutbag, and seems to have a great deal of discretion. If she thinks they're police officers, then that seems like a strong sign.
posted by radgardener at 7:42 AM on August 22, 2007 [8 favorites]


No video here, did the masks come off? If they were identifiable as police I'd imagine that there would be hell to pay. Are there higher-level police in Canada who would have an interest in actual law and order?
posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:49 AM on August 22, 2007


The fake protestors seem to be completely confused by the process. "Wait...we don't throw rocks?"

Also, one of them shoved that guy first. If they really are police (and it sure looked like it--as radgardner said the way they get through the line rather than run away is fairly damning) that's not going to go over well.

Oh wait--you have a conservative PM now. Maybe he'll get a Medal of Freedom from the US.
posted by DU at 7:59 AM on August 22, 2007


"To a certain extent it's self-fulfilling logic. You provide police with this kind of equipment and they end up using it and one way to justify it is to plant some people that toss a rock or two."

Iraqi freedom fighters know how to handle pigs.
posted by Gnostic Novelist at 8:02 AM on August 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


First I cried for Iraq.
Then I cried for America.
Now I cry for Canada.
posted by notreally at 8:05 AM on August 22, 2007


notreally, did you actually cry? Like, real tears?
posted by Baby_Balrog at 8:13 AM on August 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


No video here, did the masks come off? If they were identifiable as police I'd imagine that there would be hell to pay. Are there higher-level police in Canada who would have an interest in actual law and order?

http://rustyidols.blogspot.com/2007/08/montebello-protesters-stop-blatant.html

Scroll down the page.

The 'protester', who was never reported as being arrested and was unknown to protest organizers, never had his mask removed.

Every Black Bloc protester I've seen being arrested, one of the very first things the police did once they were standing was remove their masks.
posted by radgardener at 8:13 AM on August 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


Every Black Bloc protester I've seen being arrested, one of the very first things the police did once they were standing was remove their masks.

Or, y'know, when they were tasing them while they laid immobile and unconscious.
posted by radgardener at 8:15 AM on August 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


notreally's comment may have been eponironic.
posted by DU at 8:16 AM on August 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


I've personally witnessed tactics like these at protests, but this is the first good clear video I've ever seen of these kinds of tactics. Usually the police are better at outright destroying the cameras involved.

Usually because there's a full blown riot moments after they do their thing, giving them plenty of time to "accidentally" swing a baton or two at the holders of cameras and cameras themselves.

Excellent work, protesters. Way to hold the line.

By the way, America... do you know what they're protesting?

The North American Union. I don't ever remember voting on giving away our nation's sovereignity, much less even talking about replacing the dollar with the Amero, do you?
posted by loquacious at 8:18 AM on August 22, 2007 [5 favorites]


No video here, did the masks come off?

No, never far enough or long enough to identify the guys as far as I could see. Maybe one guy, but it was quick (at 2:22 of the video).

When things start to look bad for the infiltrators, they walk through the police line and stage a very mild fake tussle with the uniformed police, who lightly take them down and then lead them away. The whole time, other cops shield the infiltrators from the camera.
posted by pracowity at 8:20 AM on August 22, 2007


Does Canada have citizen's arrest, because that's what the protesters should have done when he shoved that guy.
posted by BrotherCaine at 8:22 AM on August 22, 2007


Are there higher-level police in Canada who would have an interest in actual law and order?

Excellent question in this case. And if these three are police agents (one had his mask off briefly), they are not acting on their own. Would anyone in authority want to know how far this goes up the chain of command?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:25 AM on August 22, 2007


Hilarious. Total cops.

- Dressed cheezily
- Three friends who don't know anyone else
- Ran for the police line as soon as the game was up
- Spent more time pulling their bandannas up over their face than anything else
- Let through the police line and quietly "arrested"

One of them had his bandanna pulled down for half a second, long enough to get a frame capture from the original video (not youtube tho).

This is a pretty common occurence at large protests, I saw it myself at the Quebec City FTAA protests. Good on the union fellow for spotting it and shutting it down. What would it take for something like this to get traction in the media?
posted by anthill at 8:28 AM on August 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


Nice boots, officers. Notice how one of them at least put the effort into painting his police-issue boots.


posted by radgardener at 8:31 AM on August 22, 2007




Can't post images? Ah well.

This is a link to a damning photo of the fact that the guys in riot gear have the same boots as the three 'anarchists'.


Truly disgusting.
posted by davey_darling at 8:39 AM on August 22, 2007




Fucking pigs.
posted by kableh at 8:44 AM on August 22, 2007


it's not actual evidence, per se, but everything about these guys screams, "traffic cop." the body language, the short, tidy hair, the muscles... couldn't they find anyone to fit the profile?

they look like juiced up mounty volunteers who wanted to go break some commie balls but the whole affair turned out to be too cerebral for comfort.
posted by klanawa at 8:44 AM on August 22, 2007


Now that's just comical.

The idea of the leaders of three nations getting together to discuss the standardization of jellybeans, that's comical.

The fact that people will believe that horseshit. That's comical, too.
posted by radgardener at 8:45 AM on August 22, 2007


This is all a little context-free for this citizen of your southern neighbor. Could a Canadian or two give us some context on how Canadian police feel about / approach public protest? Are there differences depending on the target? On the police agency involved?

I know we used to do this kind of thing all the time in the US, but now we have more efficient methods: Just lock all the protesters up in pens six blocks away.
posted by lodurr at 8:45 AM on August 22, 2007


"Black block" anarchists can't afford those boots. Those are Vibram-soled duty boots.

And if they could afford them, they wouldn't be idiotic enough to cover brand new boots in duct tape and lime green spray paint.

Also, "black block" folks generally aren't that well fed. Or pumped up. Or generally that large and thick-necked, even.

You're usually talking about socially conscious skate-punks. They don't pump that kind of iron.

Gotta dig the duct-taped "armor", too.
posted by loquacious at 8:46 AM on August 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


also, for your straight-laced run-of-the-mill mounty, watching these clowns at work must be like a run-of-the-mill unitarian watching the antics of jerry fallwell.

embarassing.
posted by klanawa at 8:48 AM on August 22, 2007


I know it won't happen, (but is still more likely then in the States currently) but it'd be amusing if this pulled the Harper government down.
posted by edgeways at 8:50 AM on August 22, 2007


Heh. Protesters.

Seriously though, if the jackbooted police thugs don't pay attention to them, who will?

Think of the children.
posted by smackwich at 8:50 AM on August 22, 2007


Seconding the request for more local commentary.
posted by voltairemodern at 8:50 AM on August 22, 2007


Glancing at the article lodurr linked one thing caught my eye, "...when you've been in politics as longs as I have...." says Bush, who er, ah has "been in politics" for 13 years, most of which has been in a pretty insular position, year yer a real grizzled politician you are.
posted by edgeways at 8:57 AM on August 22, 2007


Seriously though, if the jackbooted police thugs don't pay attention to them, who will?

Well, it seems to me the protesters are bringing attention to the jackbooted police thugs' dirty tricks. If someone IDs the guy, or somehow digs deeper into this and finds evidence of police infiltration, as far as I know it will be a first.

Where I am from, the police bring subemployed kids from a few hundred miles away to break some protester heads, and throw a bottle or two at the police. The agitators get free lunch and transportation, and get to keep the clothes. If you are going to be an evil jackbooted thug, at least try to be competent.
posted by Dataphage at 8:57 AM on August 22, 2007


lodurr, canada has its own history of mccarthyism for which the rcmp was the spearhead. i read a book about how they systematically destroyed the lives of canadians suspected of being commies, but for the life of me, i can't remember the title.

the anti-globalization movement is the new front in that war.

but the rcmp is also ingrained in canadian culture and one of the fundamental institutions of rural life (this might be a bad thing, if you happen to be from a first nations community).

i was involved in the environmental movement on vancouver island, and the mounties were as diverse as the protesters and counter-protesters. some were apologetic about doing their jobs, while others were thuggish assholes. getting arrested by a decent cop isn't a big deal, but getting manhandled by one of the thugs hurts.

regardless of their individual diversity, though, if their leadership wants them to break some bones, they'll happily do it.
posted by klanawa at 9:00 AM on August 22, 2007


It's funny how police HATE other people having cameras at protests.
posted by Artw at 9:09 AM on August 22, 2007 [3 favorites]


Seconding the request for more local commentary.

Previously on Metafilter.

The usual deal. Government meeting without accepting the input of average citizens. Police set up a fortress around the meeting. They claim the meeting is all flowers, rainbows, unicorns, and jellybeans. No minutes are offered.

Anti-democracy.
posted by radgardener at 9:09 AM on August 22, 2007


Well, I've written to NOW Magazine, Torontoist, the Harper Index, and my MP, Olivia Chow. We'll see where it goes.
posted by anthill at 9:10 AM on August 22, 2007


Well, I've written to NOW Magazine, Torontoist, the Harper Index, and my MP, Olivia Chow. We'll see where it goes.

The Harper Index has an article up already.
posted by radgardener at 9:13 AM on August 22, 2007


The boots photo is the best. Plain as day.
posted by gcbv at 9:29 AM on August 22, 2007


Type of boots involved. The yellow triangle is a universally recognized symbol designating a boot's safety rating.

Side by side comparison of cop's boots and protester's boots.

DailyKos discussion of same issue.
posted by chlorus at 9:34 AM on August 22, 2007


Here's an annotated and enlarged version. Same boots, down to the last tread.
posted by anthill at 9:54 AM on August 22, 2007


They're not triangles, they're eight-sided Vibram logos.
posted by kowalski at 9:55 AM on August 22, 2007


I am pretty disgusted by this, as well as the official response/provocation:

Harper shook hands with Bush as he greeted the U.S. president, dismissing the protest as a "sad" spectacle.

"I've heard it's nothing," the prime minister said when asked whether he'd seen the protesters.

"A couple hundred? It's sad."


What is the point of that statement? Its been burning me since I read it yesterday. Fuck Harper.
posted by Quartermass at 10:08 AM on August 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's funny how police HATE other people having cameras at protests.

I enjoyed watching the cop holding a camera who comes into the video at about 2:40. I assume he is there to document any confrontation, but he has no interest in filming the "take-down and arrest." He lamely stands by, points his camera back to the real protesters, and then closes his camera deciding that, oh well, there won't be any trouble at the moment. The cat must have really been out of the bag with these fake protesters, even the police cameraman knew not to bother filming the action.
posted by peeedro at 10:10 AM on August 22, 2007


"On va protester, et bla bla bla" (quote from the last one)
posted by anthill at 10:14 AM on August 22, 2007


I've seen guys sitting in a police car wearing BDUs, hats, gunbelts and badges that looked less like fucking cops than those dudes. One guy even has "FUCK" written across his knuckles and a regular hair cut pushed up into a fauxhawk with one stripe of purple spray in dye in it, it's like the punk rock episode of some early 80's sitcom where all the punkers just tear the sleeves off their polo shirts and write "punk" on their jeans with glitter. Good on the protesters for not falling for that corny nonsense.
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:23 AM on August 22, 2007 [4 favorites]


Hell, Henry Rollins looks less like a cop than those guys!
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:28 AM on August 22, 2007


They're not triangles, they're eight-sided Vibram logos.

Indeed, kowalski. Vibram's 134AR Technical Lug boots. The boot picture takes away any doubt about this situation.
posted by zennie at 10:28 AM on August 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Black block" anarchists can't afford those boots. Those are Vibram-soled duty boots.

Not necessarily. My Vegetarian Shoes boots would look exactly the same in a photo like that because they've been resoled with Vibram's #132 Montagna Block Unit Soles several times. Vibram is often the only sole that a shoe repair place carries that will work on Doc Martens style boots, or even the standard combat boots that a lot of "black bloc" anarchists wear, so I don't think it's a very good smoking gun.

Also, "black block" folks generally aren't that well fed. Or pumped up. Or generally that large and thick-necked, even.

I dunno, I've known a lot of anarchists who have similar body types because they're really into hardcore, or they're really into the whole "vegan bodybuilding" thing (seriously!). Had I been at that protest, I could have easily mistaken two of those cops for being former roommates of mine if it weren't for the obviously cop-like way they were dressed.
posted by cmonkey at 10:35 AM on August 22, 2007


Iraqi freedom fighters know how to handle pigs.
posted by Gnostic Novelist at 8:02 AM on August 22

Yeah...Wait, WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?!
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 10:37 AM on August 22, 2007


Not necessarily. My Vegetarian Shoes boots would look exactly the same in a photo like that because they've been resoled with Vibram's #132 Montagna Block Unit Soles several times. Vibram is often the only sole that a shoe repair place carries that will work on Doc Martens style boots, or even the standard combat boots that a lot of "black bloc" anarchists wear, so I don't think it's a very good smoking gun.

All three suspicious "anarchists" being referred to as police by every single anarchist there, just happen to have the same boots (not just soles) as the riot police?

I know you know they're cops, and you're being the devil's advocate, but sheesh.

Big lies ask too much faith, and I ain't got it.
posted by radgardener at 10:43 AM on August 22, 2007



"notreally, did you actually cry? Like, real tears?"

-

"notreally's comment may have been eponironic."

DU's got it. At my late age the tears are about all dried up. Just a few figurative ones left.
posted by notreally at 10:45 AM on August 22, 2007


The use of the term "pig" in any context will not help this story gets the coverage and traction it very much requires.
posted by kowalski at 10:49 AM on August 22, 2007


As universal as this shit is, the only thing that shocks me is that it's taken so long for such good evidence of it to come out.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:50 AM on August 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure I understand the question. I was simply pointing out that Iraqi freedom fighters keep pigs on a leash. A pig is more likely to face justice there than in America, with a few exceptions.

The first effect of a monopoly of force is to ensure that the hand holding the sword need never fear, in other words.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:51 AM on August 22, 2007




I know you know they're cops, and you're being the devil's advocate, but sheesh.

I'm not advocating anything, just saying that soles alone aren't proof of being cops.
posted by cmonkey at 10:53 AM on August 22, 2007


I was going to post what Quartermass did. As bad as this situation is, what really got me steamed was Harper's dumbass comments. What does that mean!!? He'd be happy if millions of people had come out and protested?

I'm starting to wonder if a corrupt Liberal government would really be any more damaging than the present Conservative one. The next election cannot come quickly enough.
posted by stinkycheese at 10:54 AM on August 22, 2007


I'm not advocating anything, just saying that soles alone aren't proof of being cops.

You're saying cops have no soles?

I'm here all week, try the veal!
posted by GuyZero at 11:07 AM on August 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


Maybe he's saying cops - are soles!
Don't have the veal - that's just cruel, man
posted by Abiezer at 11:11 AM on August 22, 2007


cmonkey's right, the soles are just about the least interesting piece of evidence. Especially in a subculture that engages in a lot of thrift, it would be very unsurprising to see them using a standard Vibram sole on their re-soled boots.

Look instead at the design of the uppers on the boots. It's obscured a little by the bizarro spraypaint and duct-tape job, but they sure look like the same boots to me. (And echo the comment up-thread about spraypainting and duct-taping brand new boots. Aside from middle class suburban punk kids, who does that?)
posted by lodurr at 11:13 AM on August 22, 2007


Gnostic Novelist, show us your boots.
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:15 AM on August 22, 2007


"straight-laced"
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:21 AM on August 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


I heard a report on CBC the other day about protestors refusing to stay in the assigned protest zone - i.e., what is called here in the US "free-speech zones." (Another Orwellian phrase courtesy of Dumbya's government.)

I was wondering if Canada always sets up protest areas like that, or if Harper stole the idea from his new BFF Bush.

Haven't watched any videos of this incident -- I'm almost enjoying more my own image of the "protestors" sidling up to the police line and stage-whispering, "Pssst. Pretend to arrest me."
posted by NorthernLite at 11:23 AM on August 22, 2007


Correct me if I'm wrong on the timeline:

1) An open government/police cameraman and crew is assaulted by the crown
2) Protesters throw "rocks and branches" at police while advancing on Police lines.
3) Police fire tear gas and pepper spray and arrest two (?) people.
~
4?) Police send undercover officers to monitor violent "anarchist" groups covering their faces that have previously assaulted police, in past days and likely at a variety of past summits in Canada and abroad.

How exactly is this a problem? What exactly was so peaceful about protests that involved rock throwing at police? How were these three presumed "provocateurs" inciting a riot? Being undercover means going with the crowd and not raising suspicions. Clearly in this case in means carrying rocks, appearing menacing and antagonizing police. If they were cops and were called out on it, they did a bad job, but judging from what some of the "protesters" were doing earlier, and at other summits in recent memory, I really don't see what the problem is with gathering intelligence on violent criminals.

Also, if someone can explain to me exactly why the police would ever want to incite a riot, I'd love to hear it. Are some individual cops a little baton happy in the heat of the moment? Yep. Do the riot cops look scary and intimidating with their guns and shields? Sure. Does the chief of police want to hear about his cops beating innocent and peaceful women and children (or union chiefs) and see pictures of it beamed around the globe? I highly doubt it. So the rationale is, what exactly?

I'm starting to wonder if a corrupt Liberal government would really be any more damaging than the present Conservative one.

Yes, because for the Liberals, pepper is only something they put on their plates. And after all, pepper spray is better than Baseball bats! And under the liberals, the RCMP always provided towels for the protesters to wipe their eyes. Much better!
posted by loquax at 11:23 AM on August 22, 2007


The most interesting part of the video to me is not the boots, but the behavior of the provocateurs. It is so obviously a fucking setup.

Any self respecting anarchist would be fucking livid about being accused of being a cop, and he would be screaming right back.
posted by chlorus at 11:24 AM on August 22, 2007


By their boots shall ye know them.
posted by hortense at 11:27 AM on August 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure I understand the question. I was simply pointing out that Iraqi freedom fighters keep pigs on a leash. A pig is more likely to face justice there than in America, with a few exceptions.

First off, just who are these "Iraqi freedom fighters?" There's a lot of people in Iraq and I don't really think any of them are fighting for something I'd call "freedom." Are you talking about the Sunni dominated Al-Qaeda in Iraq that likes to blow up Shiite mosques? Or maybe you're talking about the Shiite militias, the many many Shiite militias that when not fighting themselves really get down with the idea of ethnically cleansing Sunnis. I also doubt you’re talking about the Peshmerga, cause those guys are America's biggest fan boys.

So, uh, yeah, there are no freedom fighters in Iraq. There are the people with the guns and there are the civilians and that gap is quickly closing. But what you said, Gnostic, is motherfucking insane. Not only does it betray a profound misunderstanding of the conflict in Iraq it's also a really fucked up thing to say. But I'm done with this, because I have a sneaking suspicion you're enamored with your ability to spout hyperbole.
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 11:32 AM on August 22, 2007


Police send undercover officers to monitor violent "anarchist" groups covering their faces that have previously assaulted police, in past days and likely at a variety of past summits in Canada and abroad.

How exactly is this a problem?

Bit of a difference between undercover officer and agent provocateur.
posted by Abiezer at 11:32 AM on August 22, 2007


"That's some fine work there, Lou."

/because nobody has yet
posted by Webbster at 11:33 AM on August 22, 2007


I was simply pointing out that Iraqi freedom fighters keep pigs on a leash.

Not true. In Islam, pigs are considered unclean animals.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:33 AM on August 22, 2007


Friends,
Gnostic Novelist has taken it upon himself to try his hand at trolling, he's a novice at best. Please join me in flagging him and otherwise ignoring his tedious prattle.
posted by Divine_Wino at 12:37 PM on August 22, 2007 [4 favorites]


Bit of a difference between undercover officer and agent provocateur.

I saw the video once (and can't re-watch at the moment) but I didn't see them provoking anything on tape. It looked like they were trying to (badly) blend in with the other members of the red brigades or whatever they are. It's hard to tell what exactly was happening, but it looks like the union chief was telling all the banditos to stay back, then somehow the 3 in question get fingered as cops, there's some jostling and yelling, and the 3 get taken away. All of this occurred after rocks had been previously been thrown at police while protesters challenged the lines and a camera crew had been assaulted. If I'm misunderstanding the exact gestapo tactics at work here, please enlighten me.
posted by loquax at 12:55 PM on August 22, 2007


"So the rationale is, what exactly?"

Well, for one thing, if the authorities could provoke a minor riot, they would be able to dismiss the claims of all of the protesters as those of leftwing kooks. Also, the general public would focus more on the riot, rather than the issues being protested. I'd say they have a lot to gain.

And if they were cops trying to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Bloc, then why did they need to carry around stones? This begs the question... how do we know that it wasn't cops who instigated the other violence at this, and other protests? It really opens up a can of smelly worms any way you look at it.

If they're cops, who sent them, and how far up the chain of command does this go? I think something like this is a major threat to our democracy.

All Canadians who give a shit about what went down should write their MPs, and ask for an inquiry, not to mention sending off letters to the editor, demanding that they find out who exactly these three men were.
posted by Rusty Iron at 12:57 PM on August 22, 2007


All Canadians who give a shit about what went down should write their MPs, and ask for an inquiry, not to mention sending off letters to the editor, demanding that they find out who exactly these three men were.

Alexa McDonough just got her own self a letter she did.
posted by radgardener at 1:00 PM on August 22, 2007


the distractions of jelly beans and interplanetary highways tells me there is nothing at all to worry about. situation normal.
posted by garfield at 1:01 PM on August 22, 2007


loquax -the rocks in their hands are pretty damning. How undercover do you think they would be required to go? It's not like they're long-terms moles in a terror cell having to keep up appearances.
The general idea of the rule of law is that those tasked with enforcing it adhere to it themselves. Idealistic I know, but there you go.
posted by Abiezer at 1:04 PM on August 22, 2007


the distractions of jelly beans and interplanetary highways tells me there is nothing at all to worry about. situation normal.

Obviously, they were just discussing the Jetsons' diet and vacation habits.
posted by radgardener at 1:06 PM on August 22, 2007


Remember the good older days...
posted by SteveInMaine at 1:09 PM on August 22, 2007


loquax, I agree with you that the police have reason to closely monitor the situation, but there was definitely something fishy going on there. If the rock in your hand is part of your undercover costume, why not put it down when asked by a fellow protestor, in order to maintain your cover? Why shove the guy who is asking you to put the rock down? Why play at a fake arrest after you have been called out and are no longer useful as a hidden agent?
posted by zennie at 1:21 PM on August 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


Does the chief of police want to hear about his cops beating innocent and peaceful women and children (or union chiefs) and see pictures of it beamed around the globe? I highly doubt it.

Some police don't mind shooting peaceful protesters (women, even) with rubber bullets and laughing about it. "HAHAHA, you hit her smack dab in the forehead!" Maybe the police are just trying to start a laugh riot.
posted by ryoshu at 1:26 PM on August 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


Why play at a fake arrest after you have been called out and are no longer useful as a hidden agent?

Because cops acting as provocateurs is illegal as shitting on the Pope.

I mean literally shitting on the Pope, of course.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:26 PM on August 22, 2007


Terrorizing Social Protest
posted by homunculus at 1:29 PM on August 22, 2007


Oh and another thing: assuming police arrest records are public information, did the arrest of three caucasian males wearing masks and fitting those descriptions actually show up in police records yesterday?
posted by chlorus at 1:31 PM on August 22, 2007


Well, for one thing, if the authorities could provoke a minor riot

There had already been a minor riot.

Also, the general public would focus more on the riot, rather than the issues being protested. I'd say they have a lot to gain.


This presumes that the "general public" knew or cared about the issues, and they were aware that there was a summit.

And if they were cops trying to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Bloc, then why did they need to carry around stones?

Because the Black Bloc was also carrying stones and they wanted to blend in? Or is it the case that all stone throwing is simply cop-on-cop violence? I didn't see them throwing the stones, encouraging others to throw stones, or leading or inciting anything. It seemed like they were obvious Narcs and were called out as such. To draw conclusions from this that the mayhem in Quebec, Seattle, Italy, etc, etc, is now "tainted" is absurd. Frankly, I can't think of a time when "protesters" didn't come off as innocent and peace loving and cops didn't come off as fascist pigs as reported in the media. Why on earth would anyone want a repeat?

How undercover do you think they would be required to go?

I didn't get a good look at the other guys in masks and what they had in their hands, but they looked like they were itching for a fight, and indeed, there had been one earlier. Is it not possible that rocks in hand was the outfit du jure among that crowd?

The general idea of the rule of law is that those tasked with enforcing it adhere to it themselves.


Maybe they crossed the line slightly, in the context of trying to police and control a violent group of people bent on picking a fight (and I don't mean those grandmothers and union brothers). I don't know the exact circumstances. Hardly a fundamental assault on democracy as we know it.

If the rock in your hand is part of your undercover costume, why not put it down when asked by a fellow protestor, in order to maintain your cover? Why shove the guy who is asking you to put the rock down? Why play at a fake arrest after you have been called out and are no longer useful as a hidden agent?

Because they're shitty, shitty undercover cops?

Some police don't mind shooting peaceful protesters


Undoubtedly. I do doubt that Stephen Harper wanted to see peaceful protesters (or any protesters) shot, gassed, bagged, or anything else.

Listen, this is very simple, there would be no tear gas, no police surveillence and no violence if it weren't for the Black Hand, COBRA, S.P.E.C.T.R.E or whatever those groups choose to call themselves. Young, angry men wearing masks and weilding anything that isn't tied down just begging for a fight with the cops. Good for the union chief in standing up to them. Bad for those thugs for giving peaceful protesting a bad name.
posted by loquax at 1:35 PM on August 22, 2007


Loquax:

a. There's no reason to pick up a rock in order to blend in.

b. As far as I can tell, Dave Coles is addressing these three men specifically from the beginning of the tape. At first he thinks they are part of one of the more radical blocs with which the unions had an agreement on who would be where, which is what he's talking about at first. Then he recognizes that they're not part of that group, or the group tells him they don't know them, and his dialogue with them changes accordingly.

c. If they're just trying to follow the protest undercover, why are they trying to move in their fake radical garb up through the union members towards the police line?

As Rusty Iron notes, if their purpose here was to throw the rocks they're holding at the police line, it throws into question other violence at this summit and others that have occurred in Quebec and Canada in the past. But we can also clarify the timeline that loquax is attempting to raise.

1. The guy who assaulted a police videographer apparently did so after his girlfriend was shot with a rubber bullet. In the anger of that moment, he made an unfortunate and very objectionable decision. But one can question why anyone was being shot with rubber bullets here in the first place, given the small numbers of people and their interest solely in holding the road close to the summit site, not in actually advancing on the chateau itself.

I was at the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City in 2001 (or rather, like tens of thousands of other concerned Canadians, I was in the streets outside of it). On the second day of major demonstrations, police at the Boul. Rene Levesque gate were shooting rubber bullets from a point of concealment at people milling around some thirty metres from the fence. The action was obviously provocative, verging on the sadistic. While none of us were at Montebello, and have only the scant details that have so far emerged to go on, it doesn't seem to me to be beyond the realm of possibility that the camera assault may have occurred in similar circumstances.

2. Police used violence (tear gas, pepper spray, batons and rubber or plastic bullets) to attempt to force the demonstrations away from the main road that passes in front of the chateau grounds. The violence appears to have been doled out in small quantities throughout the day, and in much greater concentration after 5:30 pm. If a few demonstrators responded with projectiles it's an unfortunate complication of the situation, but not exactly difficult to understand. More importantly, the limited nature of these exchanges can be clearly seen in the fact that just four actual demonstrators were arrested. If there had been the riot that loquax is suggesting, far more people would have been in custody.

From what I do understand, the incident with the provocateurs occurred shortly after 3 pm. At about 5:30 pm, the police -- having waited until the bulk of the media crews had departed -- made a decisive push to disperse the demonstrations for the evening. They couldn't have done this earlier because the placement of the union groups between the police line and radical blocs would have meant they'd be cracking the heads of grandparents and otherwise upright looking citizens like Dave Coles and Maude Barlow while the media looked on.

Note that, rather than this being a case of the union groups keeping the radical groups in check or protecting police, this was a strategic, cooperative decision of all attending groups, and allowed the demonstration to hold the road much longer than they likely would have otherwise been allowed to do so. If the radical groups had been intent on violence, as loquax is suggesting, they wouldn't have let the unions occupy the front line, they would have been up there, stayed up there, and made sure they got their ration on tear gas, asphalt and blood.

By 5:30, however, the mainstream media had largely departed, and perhaps some of the union groups as well (again, I wasn't there, I can only speculate on this). What does seem clear to me, based on the facts and chronology I have, is that had the provocateurs been able to carry out their apparent intentions, the police would have been able to move in with decisive force two hours earlier and, instead of being seen on tv relishing the act of cracking some poor grandmothers' skulls, in the assumed narrative they would have simply been responding to a violent and unruly crowd. Instead, they had to wait until the media and (again speculating) maybe the union groups had already departed. If you're looking for a rational motive, this seems to be a good candidate.
posted by kowalski at 1:53 PM on August 22, 2007 [5 favorites]


Listen, this is very simple, there would be no tear gas, no police surveillence and no violence if it weren't for the Black Hand, COBRA, S.P.E.C.T.R.E or whatever those groups choose to call themselves.

And there would be even less violence if governments didn't use agent provocateurs to incite riots in order to discredit the protesters' agendas.
posted by ryoshu at 2:10 PM on August 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


Listen, this is very simple, there would be no tear gas, no police surveillence and no violence if it weren't for the Black Hand, COBRA, S.P.E.C.T.R.E or whatever those groups choose to call themselves.
Well, I'm not Canadian, but back home in the UK we had agents provocateurs trying to incite violence by non-violent civil disobedience groups I've been active in, so I don't rule out that happening here too.
I don't deny you get the types who are just up for a ruck with the law at these demos, but really it's not much compared to football crowds and the sad fact of life for the officers is they should be reactive in these situations. They get adequately tooled up to perform that role. Policing can put you in some shitty situations, but if you're not up for the job in a democratic society, don't do it. Maintaining that democratic society also involves keeping its agents in line. It's not the end of the world or a harbinger of the incipient Canadian Reich, but it's wrong, they're being called on it, and rightly so.
posted by Abiezer at 2:19 PM on August 22, 2007


They're cops. I don't think it's been added to the pile-on of obvious, but those riot cops would not let a protester, not to mention three, get in their face while holding a rock, which in terms of cop-training equates to a knife or a gun.

I'd love to know what's going on in the minds of the riot-geared cops though. The fake "arrest" was kind of cute.
posted by bardic at 2:22 PM on August 22, 2007


The Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union isn't letting the story die -- the CP has sent out a second wire story about the incident.
posted by kowalski at 2:24 PM on August 22, 2007


loquax: you seem to be a bit obstinate.

If 4 houses are robbed with a similar MO, and someone is caught robbing a 5th house with the same MO, do you think there's any court that won't issue a search warrant to try and recover property from the previous 4 robbings?

If rocks are being thrown from a mob, and police catch person A with a rock in his/her hand, they won't have a problem using the logic that quite possibly they had previously thrown rocks. Thus, anyone carrying a rock, is a good candidate to have thrown a rock earlier. Try explaining to a jury why you're in a protest carrying a rock. I'm sure the police don't have an issue with the logic that a person carrying a rock in such a situation is a danger.

We see in the video some people carrying rocks.

These people also aren't recognized by anyone in the crowd, seem fearful to have their faces shown, and even get preferential treatment from the police in that their masks are *not* removed. Ignore the boots, ignore the behavior of the suspects, the fact that their masks are not removed is a very good indicator that they're cooperating with the police in some form.

So, we have likely police carrying rocks, which means that they good suspects for previous rock throwing. So how is it that we shouldn't be considering them for previous rock throwing? Because they weren't caught yet? Without video of someone other than these three throwing the rocks, I have to say that they're the best suspects in my mind.

This is absolutely disgusting.

I'm going to be doing some letter writing tonight.
posted by nobeagle at 2:53 PM on August 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


We kicked a few of these guys out of our meeting for the G8 summit protest in Brunswick, GA.

After marching for a few hours across the marshes to Sea Island, where our intrepid band of 50 was confronted by 200 or so riot police. the provocateurs were given water from the police trucks. A CDC scientist marching with us had been denied water and had fainted.

These people are usually rather obvious, especially in the smaller groups.
posted by eustatic at 3:00 PM on August 22, 2007


Loquax:

Okay... you've done a pretty good job of splitting hairs, but do you not agree that there is significant reason to look into the matter further? Especially since so many people seem to think something fishy is going on?

Don't you think it's in the best interest of the police to try and clear this matter up? And sorry, but the police simply stating that they won't release the names of these individuals doesn't cut it when they're the ones being accused of shenanigans. That's a little like putting the fox in charge of finding out who's been eating the chickens.
posted by Rusty Iron at 3:03 PM on August 22, 2007


Listen, this is very simple, there would be no tear gas, no police surveillence and no violence if it weren't for the Black Hand, COBRA, S.P.E.C.T.R.E or whatever those groups choose to call themselves.

One:

"The second stage of the riots was a police riot. Later that night, after order was restored downtown, a number of SFPD cars headed into the Castro District. Police marched into a bar called the Elephant Walk, smashed fixtures and beat patrons with clubs. Most of the assault victims were just drinking at the bar and had no part in the earlier rioting downtown."

Long story short: police respond to riots in one part of town; later, they go to a neighborhood where there were no riots, and assault people who were in a bar.

Two:

"Two Oakland police officers working undercover at an anti-war protest in May 2003 got themselves elected to leadership positions in an effort to influence the demonstration, documents released Thursday show [...] At the first demonstration, police fired nonlethal bullets and bean bags at demonstrators who blocked the Port of Oakland's entrance in a protest against two shipping companies they said were helping the war effort. Dozens of activists and longshoremen on their way to work suffered injuries ranging from welts to broken bones and have won nearly $2 million in legal settlements from the city."

I have been at protests that were a bunch of people marching, carrying signs, chanting - no window-breaking Black Bloc in sight - and witnessed copes order protesters to disperse by moving down a certain street; when people tried to comply, cops started swinging billy clubs.
posted by rtha at 3:03 PM on August 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


The only thing surprising about this is that people seem surprised by it.
posted by Jairus at 3:31 PM on August 22, 2007


And from the recent immigration rallies in L.A., there's this:

"News video images of the incident that erupted at a peaceful gathering in MacArthur Park, west of downtown, showed the police marching into the crowd, shoving and knocking down demonstrators and journalists with batons and firing rubber bullets at close range."

From a story in the LA Times (available here for free), cops assaulted journalists who were clearly being journalists: they were standing in front of cameras, waiting to go on air.

Yeah. Cops never provoke this stuff - it's only ever in reaction to violence. Uh-huh.
posted by rtha at 3:31 PM on August 22, 2007


Three:

"Italian media have been publishing transcripts of an inquiry into the policing of the 2001 Genoa G8 summit in which officers admit fabricating evidence against protesters.
...
A senior officer, Pietro Troiani, reportedly admitted under questioning that two petrol bombs allegedly found at the school were planted by police to justify the raid.
...
Attention is also focusing on a knife attack on one police officer, Massimo Nucera.

A senior police chief, Franco Gratteri, head of the Central Operations Services, is quoted as saying that the stabbing was not carried out by protesters, but was simulated."

Can't find any reason to beat up some folks on a bus? No problem! Plant some molotov cocktails and simulate a stabbing.

/me rends garments

Why, oh why, would police do things like this?
posted by ryoshu at 3:33 PM on August 22, 2007


much less even talking about replacing the dollar with the Amero...

Those dumb bastards. AS IF we'd ever approve a wimpy little "Amero" instead of a big throbbing North American Dollar!
posted by naomi at 3:51 PM on August 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Protégera nos foyers et nos droits
posted by oaf at 3:51 PM on August 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


CBC is also carrying the story, hopefully this will be a "big deal" tomorrow. I've emailed my (opposition) MP (that I helped elect by a tiny margin), this is really disgusting stuff.
posted by mek at 3:53 PM on August 22, 2007


Okay... you've done a pretty good job of splitting hairs, but do you not agree that there is significant reason to look into the matter further?

Oh sure! I have no problem with investigating. If these cops were inciting a riot or throwing stones themselves, there are big problems. If the cops really are beating innocent people without warning not in the middle of a riot or illegal gathering, there are problems. This video or any other unsubstantiated claims of this are not proof of that in Montebello, nor do they seem to show anything other than that the cops had agents dressed up like rock-throwing criminals. I only commented to counter the claims that Canada has gone the way of Nazi Germany.

On the other hand, I actively encourage the police to infiltrate and arrest any violent protesters. Just do a better job of it.

WE WILL NOT BE CAGED!

When the Bush/Harper/Calderon meeting begins, a network of direct action, anti-capitalist, social justice activists from Ontario and Quebec, within the framework of the People's Global Action (PGA) Network, will try to disrupt the summit.

We are not going to lobby the SPP leaders or governments to be nicer. We are not interested in negotiating the terms of our own misery, or to be bought off by crumbs. Justice and dignity is achieved through grassroots mobilizing, struggle and direct action, not the charity of corporations, rock-stars, politicians and NGOs complicit in a destructive system. Bush, Harper and Calderon deserve to be confronted directly.


This is not acceptable. Who's inciting what now?
posted by loquax at 3:54 PM on August 22, 2007


Tthe police were the only people in the video holding a rock, and several Black Bloc members suggest the police agents were encouraging them to be "aggressive." I mean I suppose mayyybe those police were just hanging out in funny clothes with rocks, I suppose you could believe that, if you really wanted to.

But "infiltrating" these groups is completely unnecessary, since the police only need the slightest aggressive action and tear gas can fly and random arrests can be made. Unless you think they're planning assassinations or something? You're coming off a little nutty here.

And there's no suggestion or incitement to criminal action in the page you linked, BTW.
posted by mek at 4:09 PM on August 22, 2007


a network of direct action, anti-capitalist, social justice activists ....will try to disrupt the summit.

This is illegal, and contrary to free speech. Oh, but their cause is so noble that their "struggle and direct action" is kosher?

the police were the only people in the video holding a rock


Was it the police throwing the rocks earlier? If you believe that those guys weren't ready to throw down, and that they needed incitement from the police, you're the one who sounds a little nutty.

several Black Bloc members suggest the police agents were encouraging them to be "aggressive."

Oh, well then, that settles it. If the "Black Bloc" accuses the cops of malfeasance it must be true.

I mean I suppose mayyybe those police were just hanging out in funny clothes with rocks, I suppose you could believe that, if you really wanted to.

I believe they were infiltrating the bloc so they could try to arrest troublemakers without "letting the tear gas fly"

But if you want to believe that the cops were trying to incite a riot so that they can put themselves in harm's way, crack a few grandmother's heads and beat up a few hippies, just so they can go home early, hey, who am I to stop you.
posted by loquax at 4:26 PM on August 22, 2007


loquax, it's pretty clear from the video that the cops-in-black-bloc clothing were trying to incite violence, presumably to "set up" the rest of the protesters for a police take-down.

While it's kind of icky IMO, I don't think it's beyond the pale for cops to infiltrate the more (potentially) violent groups. What's fucked up about this situation though, if what people are saying is true, is that the cops themselves were going to start the violence themselves. (Again, what gave them away to me was how that one guy was holding a rock, and nobody else was, and the riot-gear cops didn't do anything. If that guy hadn't been a plant, those cops would have beat the shit out of him. From a legal/cop perspective, rock = deadly weapon.)

So fine, you've nitpicked yourself into a corner. Cops have a right to try and get information, but they don't have a right to start a riot on their own and then arrest anyone who happened to be in the area.

But I agree with you that a fully and thorough investigation here is definitely called for.
posted by bardic at 4:32 PM on August 22, 2007


I wonder how many of the cop apologists hereare just spooks infiltrating this thread?
posted by snakey at 4:49 PM on August 22, 2007


I wonder how many of the cop apologists hereare just spooks infiltrating this thread?

Wouldn't the black bloc apologists be the spooks?
posted by loquax at 4:51 PM on August 22, 2007


I have just written to my MP asking for a timely, thorough and independent investigation into this incident.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 5:07 PM on August 22, 2007


The only thing surprising about this is that people seem surprised by it.
posted by Jairus at 3:31 PM on August 22 [+] [!]


I don't know, seems to me that people's reactions here are more of disgust and not so much "surprise."

The last thing I'd want in reaction to this sort of thing would be a bunch of "meh's" and "*yawns*", as fashionable as they may sometimes be.
posted by the other side at 5:13 PM on August 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


I have just written to my MP asking for a timely, thorough, and independent investigation into loquax - er, I mean, this incident.
posted by anthill at 5:19 PM on August 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


I watched the video again. Here's what it looks like to me (honestly, no trolling!):

1) The union boss is trying to keep all of the guys in masks away from the peaceful (presumably labour) protesters
2) The three in question are standing around looking suspicious and out of place from the beginning, not in the middle of the crowd, not talking to anybody, and looking nervous.
3) Also, it appears as though the black bloc knows from the beginning of the tape that those guys are cops, and are vocal about it. Perhaps that's why the tape is running?
4) The scene becomes increasingly confrontational as union chief attempts to deal with undercover cops as though the were real protesters, demanding that they take off their masks and drop the rock. I don't know why he had a rock, or if all of them did, but he didn't do anything with the rock but hold it.
5) The undercover cops looking increasingly nervous about the belligerent protesters that know that they're cops, and seem to be edging towards the police line to make a getaway without blowing their cover (hence the not dropping of the rock and the masks staying up)
6) The chief is grabbing at them, leading one to push him away, perhaps to keep in character, perhaps because he's getting nervous, perhaps he doesn't want to be pushed back towards the others, who look like they'd be glad to have him. If that's how he was trying to incite a riot, it's a terrible attempt, as everyone already knows they're cops.
7) They all continue to move slowly towards the police line
8) It becomes apparent to everyone that they're cops, and also that they have no idea what to do, so they stand there, not wanting to go back, and not wanting to make it apparant that they're cops. Meanwhile there are cameras everywhere, and the chief is announcing to the mob that they're cops.
9) People start to grab at them, trying to pull their masks off, and enough is enough and they go through the pantomime of being arrested.

At no time do I see on camera them trying to incite violence. I see bad undercover cops being fingered and then bailing as fast as possible before the mob tore them up. Were those guys whispering to the others to storm the line? Maybe, but there's no proof, and somehow, I highly highly doubt it. This video is great for watching some keystone cops in action, and seeing how tense that line can be. It's not a chilling glimpse of our democracy eroding. Beyond the vague accusations of protesters, there's no proof of anything other than that they were cops.
posted by loquax at 5:30 PM on August 22, 2007


Also, as you can see at about 45 seconds in, the one undercover cop pushes the chief because the chief (unknowingly) is trying to push him away from the line (and his escape) and towards the protesters who are already chanting "policier" and pointing them towards the line (see ~25 seconds in).
posted by loquax at 5:36 PM on August 22, 2007


Those dumb bastards. AS IF we'd ever approve a wimpy little "Amero" instead of a big throbbing North American Dollar!
posted by naomi at 11:51 PM on August 22

Yeah! GO N.A.D!

I'm sorry, it needed saying. I'll get me coat.
posted by kaemaril at 5:37 PM on August 22, 2007


[A few comments removed. Take the troll / are not / are too thing to email.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:39 PM on August 22, 2007


I should add that I can see how one would believe that those guys were "trying to incite a riot" by "rushing the line" if you don't believe that they were heading towards the cops trying to get themselves the hell out of there. I think that from the video it's clear that their cover was blown and that's exactly what they were trying to do. What they were doing before the tape started, who knows.
posted by loquax at 5:43 PM on August 22, 2007


Happens all the time, but the video is hilarious. And you can bet the police were making a note to smash that camera as soon as things kicked off.

I can't think of a time when "protesters" didn't come off as innocent and peace loving and cops didn't come off as fascist pigs as reported in the media.

This is baffling, though. Maybe things are different in the US, but where I live, whenever the police go crazy, the best you can hope for is a report that the "protest turned violent". More likely, you will find pictures of dreadlock'd teenagers under headlines reading "SHAME" or "TERROR IN OUR STREETS" or "FILTHY LUNATICS GO CRAZY AT OUR HARD-WORKING, BABY-KISSING POLICE".

The only country I've noticed to have consistently good reporting on civil disobedience is Sweden, where you will actually see front-page headlines reading "Police Beat Protesters".
posted by stammer at 5:44 PM on August 22, 2007


As I see it:
1) First he tried to keep them from the police line, then the "line" Then unmask them.

2) Agreed.

3) Not sure but MUCH earlier, the age and demeanor I would guess.

4) But only between the 'three' and the Union leader.

5) also agree, as in "Damn, do I stay with Plan, or blow my cover and run?"

6) He doesn't incite one by swinging at the chief, then the chief would just walk him over to the police who woud HAVE to arrest him for assault. Remember the police did not press charges againt these ARMED aggitators, but the chief WOULD have.

7) and in a rather wierd way, like "play acting at being threatening"

8) Bingo

9) Bingo..

They hade bottles and rocks and Masks to appear as the what I would call Eugenian Anarchists and were caught Early, real early by alert protesters and Narc'd by the other anarchists. Getting to admit they were probably cops, (still not sure if cops or not but sure as hell suspicious. not so mush a reasonable doubt they were in cahoots) now comes the not so great leap of faith, Why in the hell were they there with rocks and bottles? to observe? to Help the police in arrests? come on, that streches credulity...
posted by Elim at 5:49 PM on August 22, 2007


Credulity probably spelled wrong, but I waited SO long to use it.
posted by Elim at 5:50 PM on August 22, 2007


From the star: Police deny using 'provocateurs' at summit

It looks as thought the cops are implicitly saying that they were undercover, and explicitly saying that they were not inciting violence. Which makes perfect sense to me given logic and that video.

1) First he tried to keep them from the police line, then the "line" Then unmask them.

And that was the whole problem. At least in this clip, they weren't doing anything but trying to get out of there, and the chief, trying to keep troublemakers away from the cops, was understandably but misguidedly getting in their way.

Why in the hell were they there with rocks and bottles? to observe? to Help the police in arrests? come on, that streches credulity...

Like I said before, I buy misguided attempt to fit in before inciting a riot any day, especially absent any proof. The motives offered (justifying the expense of security? going home early? Discrediting the peaceful protesters?) stretch credulity given the obvious backlash against the police that would come, at least in the Canadian Press (See APAC, OCAP, etc).
posted by loquax at 6:00 PM on August 22, 2007


Loquax isn't a troll, Elim. He's just an honest and outspoken right-wing authoritarian.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 6:05 PM on August 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry I just Don't buy the "Just to fit in" line, No one else I saw had rocks and bottles, Certainly not a rock in hand... And Discrediting Peaceful protesters is what they would want, discreadit the movement.. there is a historical precident for that. A documented one. Occams Razor again. and the backlash would not have happened IF they were not caught.

..and of course police would deny it. What Gov agency would admit up front trying start a riot? the bald fact is any other reasonable explaination for those guys, those cops to be there IS to start something.

And they could have gotten out of there by leaving in any direction and caused less of a stink, they choose unwisely. throwing a rock at that point would have been just silly and I think even they realized it at that point.
posted by Elim at 6:12 PM on August 22, 2007


Maude Barlow was interviewed by CTV News at about 4:30pm PST. It looks like this might be a big story tomorrow.
posted by mek at 6:12 PM on August 22, 2007


Exp-Del, your right but he cannot honestly keep his end of this argument going... without looking like one to me. I'm not gonna Godwin this but dammit we have seen this crap before, Obvoiusly so too.
posted by Elim at 6:14 PM on August 22, 2007


but he cannot honestly keep his end of this argument going

My argument is done. Lacking any other evidence, there was no incitement. You choose to believe there was, I choose to believe there wasn't. Neither of us can "prove" anything here. What's clear is that there was no incitement on the tape. You seem to agree. That's really all I was ever trying to say. Well that and I have no problem with undercover cops.
posted by loquax at 6:19 PM on August 22, 2007


"- without looking like one to me" Lets not cherry pick please.
posted by Elim at 6:21 PM on August 22, 2007


Friend, I have no idea what you're talking about. We seem to agree with respect to what happened on the video, then diverge dramatically as to what happened off camera. If that makes me a Nazi, so be it, and have a pleasant night.
posted by loquax at 6:23 PM on August 22, 2007


I do, it shows a lack of Trust and honesty all around. the police are to protect and serve, not to provike threaten and possibly incite. I can see not other reason to be in the crowd armed with a rock and not be there to incite. Even when confronted he never let the rock go..

Like catching a guy with a bag a running car and a gun outside of a bank trying to get in and saying, no proof he was robbing it, that stretches my imagination too far.
posted by Elim at 6:26 PM on August 22, 2007


At no time do I see on camera them trying to incite violence. I see bad undercover cops being fingered and then bailing as fast as possible before the mob tore them up.

"Tore them up?" I wonder what your motive is in using that phrase. You keep referring to the protesters in this video as a sort of violent mob, when, in fact, the only person in that scenario seen holding a potential weapon (and doing most of the rough shoving) was the cop, not the "mob" that was going to supposedly "tear them up," as you say.
posted by the other side at 6:39 PM on August 22, 2007


loquax writes "But if you want to believe that the cops were trying to incite a riot so that they can put themselves in harm's way, crack a few grandmother's heads and beat up a few hippies, just so they can go home early, hey, who am I to stop you."

Apparently you haven't been to many protests, yourself.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:00 PM on August 22, 2007


"Tore them up?"

Regardless of whether or not the protesters were inclined to get physical, I don't think it's hard to imagine outed undercover cops feeling pretty goddam nervous about the possibility, given the proximity and just how busted they were.
posted by cortex at 7:02 PM on August 22, 2007


If the "Black Bloc" accuses the cops of malfeasance it must be true.

How about the guy in the suit on the video, who's the head of I forget which labor union, and was on As It Happens today, making the same accusations?

loquax, do you understand that their trying to incite violence is on the video? They just weren't successful at inciting violence.
posted by oaf at 7:21 PM on August 22, 2007


THIS PHOTO seems to show one of the evil anarchists having a little chat with one of the police line.

Now before anyone starts to diassect this one, I'll just add that if you think for a second that an anarchist kid can get that close to a line of police, to lean in even, you've got to seriously kidding yourself.
posted by gcbv at 7:25 PM on August 22, 2007


cortex,
Sure, from the cops' point of view. But the way Loquax worded that ("I see [them] bailing as fast as possible before the mob tore them up") seems to suggest that the potesters were indeed going to do so, which seems needlessly hyperbolic. If he meant it purely as a point-of-view of the cops then fair enough, but it could have been worded a lot better.
posted by the other side at 7:31 PM on August 22, 2007


I don't think it's hard to imagine outed undercover cops feeling pretty goddam nervous about the possibility, given the proximity and just how busted they were.
posted by cortex at 7:02 PM on August 22 [+] [!]


I think that's exactly why they did exit through the police line; they were genuinely concerned for their safety at that point. While the labor unions would remain civil, I'm sure the Black Bloc would have unmasked and photographed them at the very least... and if they were identified, that would be even more damning than what occurred, which certainly leaves a shade of doubt.
posted by mek at 7:38 PM on August 22, 2007


Like I said before, I buy misguided attempt to fit in before inciting a riot any day

You appear to be stretching quite a bit to make the story line up with your prejudice. Of course we cannot know for sure, but it would have to be such a painfully inept attempt to "fit in" that it's rather hard to believe. Particularly if you believe the guy from the union to be telling the truth about how it went down; the way he told it (on CBC radio news), they had the opportunity to simply walk away and pretend to protest elsewhere, which would've been entirely in-character for legit protesters in that situation.

But the only reason I'm not completely convinced that your interpretation of events is wrong is of course that these guys were pretty thoroughly incompetent no matter what they were trying to do. So that does make it hard to read. Perhaps they were highly-trained agents of some incredibly sophisticated anarchist group who managed to infiltrate the police and pretend to be incompetent agents provocateurs. More likely, they were off-duty police officers acting mostly on their own. If only some investigative journalist had the foresight to go undercover on the front lines of the protest, maybe we'd get a better story out of it.
posted by sfenders at 7:38 PM on August 22, 2007


loquax writes My argument is done. Lacking any other evidence, there was no incitement.

Well, this will be the last time I beat the dead horse, but frankly loquax, I have to call bullshit once again.

Rock = weapon = incitement, period, from a police and/or legal standpoint. The fake protesters are holding weapons, and regardless of anyone's views on the larger political situation here, a cop's job is to prevent violence, not instigate it. What's clear to me in this video is not surveillance, which seems like a reasonable thing for cops to do. He's either going to a) use that rock, and thereby cause a riot and therefore violence, and should be fired, along with whatever supervisor came up with this stunt, or b) wave the rock around, trying to stir up either the protesters (who smartly realize he's a mole) or the riot police, who are trained to react to threats of violence.

I'm leaning more towards situation b myself but yet again, the three undercover cops are indirectly trying to foment violence. This is exactly the opposite of what cops are supposed to do. They should be severely reprimanded, and probably fired for such reckless behavior, along with whatever genius lieutenant came up with this idea.
posted by bardic at 7:40 PM on August 22, 2007


Incidentally, I've heard from both anarchists and intelligence agents that the RCMP are pretty good at infiltrating anarchist (and presumably other obscure revolutionary political) organizations. So I'm thinking this can't have been their operation, and probably whoever it was, the PMO had nothing to do with it.
posted by sfenders at 7:47 PM on August 22, 2007


It'd unfortunate, but there are a lot of people like Loquax who are entirely incapable of allowing certain things into their worldview.

For it may utterly break them - with the shock of it, the sudden flash of empathy, the realization of complicitness through inaction or action.


I seriously doubt Loquax has ever been to any sizable protest or demonstration.

If so, not only has he not seen the full strength of a diverse crowd - from the inside, as a member - and all the awesome feelings of empowerment and belonging it brings. He hasn't seen people in wheelchairs dragging themselves along, carrying signs. He hasn't seen real, honest families out together, kids and all.

He wouldn't have seen what it's like to have a force of thousands and thousands at your back - all there for one task, and one task alone.

To be heard. Simply to be heard, seen and counted. To stand up for what you believe in, and risk incarcaration, injury or even death to confront the issues that matter to them most.

As such, he probably also hasn't seen cops spit at protesters. Or swear at them. Or call them filthy names. Or beat them. Or shoot at them.

He probably isn't even aware of the strange, dangerous, emotionally charged divide that's opening up between citizens and law, and the internal politics and motivations involved.

I've been at large protests and demonstrations. I've seen cops force masses of people into blind alleys just to corner them in and beat them.

I've seen cops hose down a little old lady with pepper spray from head to toe just because she couldn't move. Not because she refused to move, but because she was unable to move, because she had been injured. By a rubber bullet. This lady was frickin 70-something and had to use a walker even when her leg wasn't all banged up and knocked senseless and numb by a rubber bullet.

Yeah, I've seen idiots cuss at cops at protests. Or spit at them. Or worse, like throwing rocks, or poles. One is not an excuse for the other. It's childish and simplistic to think that they are events that are on equal footing, because they're not.

I've also worked a couple of times at three different police stations in three very different parts of the US - as a technical contractor. An outsider.

I know there's a lot of job stress related with being a cop. I know it's a thankless job, and you get lied to all the time, and no one wants to see you. It's thankless. It's not entirely unlike technical support - there's always something wrong, and no one is ever happy to see you, except I usually don't get shot at.

I understand the psychological mechanics of blue humor. Oh boy do I ever, you bastards. I understand how people need to bond and let off steam, how they need to express their frustrations.

The things I overheard being said in these police stations had nothing at all to do with any of that. The things I heard made me want to openly weep with frustration at the smallness, pettiness and fear that was the root of these things.

An example? How about "nigger"? As in, "Goddamn no good nigger". Spoken by a detective. To describe not a suspect, but a citizen seeking assistance, calling the emergency dispatch line.

How about "reds" and "commies", "dirtbags" and "freaks" used to describe animal rights activists who were protesting a vivisection laboratory?

How about "So, are we going to get to go down there and bust up some dirtbag skull or what?". Keywords "get to". Spoken in a tone of enthusiasm, rather like they were looking forward to it. It's the same tone small children use when they ask if they can go to Disneyland or the candy store - or the same tone a pothead uses to describe some really good weed.

I'm well aware of the power of adrenaline. It's one of my favorite drugs. It's extremely addictive, and I'm tired of paying for someone else's habit, especially when the source of the action is my skull and a fantastically expensive, over-engineered truncheon.


I've seen and heard these things. Unfortunately, cops don't get a whole lot of the benefit of the doubt from me any more. I've seen too much. I've known "good" cops - kind, loving, patient humans more like Jesus Christ than Chuck Norris. They're rare, and some of the toughest bitches I've ever had the honor to meet. It takes real guts to be able to be as kind and patient as Saint Teresa one second, and know that any other second you might have to blow holes in some poor schmuck who damaged his brain beyond repair on meth.

I don't know how they do it, and how they survive. Or if they even exist anymore. I haven't met such a "good" cop in a long time.


Here's the thing, though. The real kicker. The Jesus-nut on this whole wobbling helicopter of he-said-she-said and injustice and hurt feelings and spilt blood:

The cops are trained. They're armed. They're armored. They getting fucking paid to do a job, which is - ostensibly - to make sure a permitted protest and assembly happens as smoothly as possible, and with as few injuries and property damage as possible.


These people are citizens and they have a right to be heard. They have a right to be protected by the law - not intimidated by it.

They aren't supposed to be there to intimidate the protesters. They aren't supposed to be choosing sides. They aren't even fucking entitled to an opinion about the issues or politics of any legal protest of any sort - while on the job, just like the rest of us are entitled to much less while on the job.

Or are they?

Because, if so? That skirmish line drawn in the sand? All these ideologies we've been indoctrinated to, these conflicting ideas and desires?

Once that line is drawn by both of the contesting sides it becomes exceedingly difficult and painful to erase.

Because now you're talking about war.

And war, my friends, is fucking hell.


Me? I pray for peace. Literally. It's on my mind all the time. Because, lately? It looks a hell of a lot like there's a lot of lines being drawn. And I haven't been liking the looks of it, one bit.
posted by loquacious at 7:55 PM on August 22, 2007 [16 favorites]


THIS PHOTO seems to show one of the evil anarchists having a little chat with one of the police line.

Looking at that photo closely, it also appears that the three "anarchists" might be wearing bullet proof vests of the low-profile "undershirt" style.

Note the bulges at the waistline, and how the shoulders rise up and bunch a little too much around the backpack, and how the overclothes bunch and hang. There's a pretty typical profile to wearing such armor, and those guys are way too ripped to have that much beergut hanging over their belts.
posted by loquacious at 8:03 PM on August 22, 2007


misguided attempt to fit in

loquax, I understand that you don't hang around with many anarchists, so let me explain something: a rock is not a fashion accessory, it's not a fucking charm bracelet, alright? Punks don't blow eachother off for not brandishing granite at the bar or something. You don't need a rock in your hand at all times to fit in with anarchists, and if you're already sticking out, a rock won't help. Especially if you're the only one, which these geniuses apparently were.

Clear provocation. Happens all the time. Glad to finally see some documented evidence.

klanawa, the book you're thinking of - does it happen to be Whose National Security?: Canadian State Surveillance and the Creation of Enemies?
posted by poweredbybeard at 8:04 PM on August 22, 2007


I know there's a lot of job stress related with being a cop. I know it's a thankless job, and you get lied to all the time, and no one wants to see you. It's thankless. It's not entirely unlike technical support - there's always something wrong, and no one is ever happy to see you, except I usually don't get shot at.

I posit that this is because shooting you has zero chance of getting their stuff fixed sooner, not because they don't want to shoot you.
posted by oaf at 8:26 PM on August 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


loquax, do you understand that their trying to incite violence is on the video? They just weren't successful at inciting violence.

No, I don't. I explained what I saw on the video, please explain to me how you saw them inciting violence without claiming that the simple act of holding a rock was reason enough to send a group of (probably) seasoned shit-disturbers (who had already thrown rocks) into a rage.

Extrapolating (as bardic seems to) that the holding of a rock is incitement begs the following: should anyone holding a rock at a protest be arrested and imprisoned for inciting a riot? Bardic, do you think so?

Anyways, you can't tell from the video whether or not the others were holding rocks, or bottles, or had mattresses or anything else. I bet that at least some were, and there were plenty of things to throw available. I think it's easier to believe the cops were trying to blend in. Clearly others don't. I do think politics plays a role in this difference of opinion.

Loquacious: Touching comment. What does it have to do with these cops, this protest and this video?

The cops are trained. They're armed. They're armored. They getting fucking paid to do a job, which is - ostensibly - to make sure a permitted protest and assembly happens as smoothly as possible, and with as few injuries and property damage as possible.


What happens when the protesters clearly state that they intend to disrupt the meeting, take "direct action" and vow to "push the riot-police line"? Is it the fault of those racist, no-good cops that the protesters deviated from the their legal, permitted protest and started inviting themselves into the hotel to "directly confront" the leaders?

I know some cops are racist, jerks and otherwise unpleasant. I know that some are itching for a fight. I wasnt trying to defend all riot cops, everywhere. But dont pretend that there isnt a sizable cadre of professional protester that is itching for the same fight, to get the chance to smash some shit and get some pigs while waving the black flag.

so let me explain something: a rock is not a fashion accessory,

Except when it's being thrown at cops, like your anarchist pals were doing in Montelbello. Sometimes, the restraintthat a bunch of cops in full riot gear show towards these clowns amazes me.
posted by loquax at 8:46 PM on August 22, 2007


please explain to me how you saw them inciting violence

I did not see them incite violence. I saw them try. Just as I said above.
posted by oaf at 8:50 PM on August 22, 2007


loquacious - You are a god
posted by Elim at 8:50 PM on August 22, 2007


"like your anarchist pals were doing in Montelbello"

Frankly it makes me want to see the tapes of the Montebello incident to see if the same three started that one... a question I'm sure is to be asked tomorrow by a lot of people.
posted by Elim at 8:53 PM on August 22, 2007


I did not see them incite violence. I saw them try. Just as I said above.

Clever. Could you please tell me how they were trying to incite violence?
posted by loquax at 8:55 PM on August 22, 2007


Anyways, you can't tell from the video whether or not the others were holding rocks, or bottles, or had mattresses or anything else.

Mattresses?

Anyway, right, you can't tell that from the video. However, you can use your brain and deduce from the fact that the President of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada was there, and thought things calm enough to try and control the situation, that it is highly unlikely. Admittedly, it's been a while since I had any first-hand experience in this sort of thing, but I think it's probably still true, at this level of social unrest, that union presidents generally do not hang out in the rock-throwing part of the crowd.
posted by sfenders at 9:23 PM on August 22, 2007


the simple act of holding a rock weapon

Please. Now you're just being obtuse.

I suggest you go to a protest where riot cops are present, pick up a brick like the one in the video, and approach a shield line. I can assure you you would be pepper-sprayed immediately. What's so troublesome about the video, IMO, is that the fake protester is trying to incite violence in order to stage a "riot" event. Hell, forget if you're a Liberal or a Conservative for a moment -- as a taxpayer or a local business owner, you'd want that cop fired because he's actively increasing the chances of your home/car/business getting a window smashed, at the very least. Hopefully, he will be for sheer incompetence.

should anyone holding a rock at a protest be arrested and imprisoned for inciting a riot? Bardic, do you think so?

Sorry to do this, but again, you is wrong. I have a relative who's a cop. A rock is considered a weapon. I'm touched that you care about my opinion as to normative legal standards, but my only point is this -- holding a rock in an obvious manner like that would get your beaten/pepper-sprayed/tasered pretty damn quick. And guess what? Not many judges in America or Canada would have much sympathy for you. Again, a feeble attempt to change the subject. Surveillance is an appropriate role for law enforcement, within limits. Trying to incite violence by brandishing what cops and judges consider to be a weapon is a) stupid b) dangerous c) a waste of tax-payers' dollars and d) grounds for serious punishment.
posted by bardic at 9:27 PM on August 22, 2007


loquacious - You are a god

It is quite brilliant.
posted by ryoshu at 10:25 PM on August 22, 2007


loquax: "seasoned shit-disturbers (who had already thrown rocks)"... "I bet that at least some were [holding weapons], and there were plenty of things to throw available." ... "Except when it's being thrown at cops, like your anarchist pals were doing in Montelbello."

Why do you assume that rocks had already been thrown? Maybe I missed it, but I haven't seen any video of protestors throwing rocks at Montebello. All the news showed was many people confronting police vocally from close range. I saw one close range pushing and shoving. If there were rocks being thrown, I haven't seen any police videographers or media capturing it. They got lots of tear gas though.

"What happens when the protesters clearly state that they intend to disrupt the meeting, take "direct action" and vow to "push the riot-police line""

Thoughtcrime? Is it crime before it's acted upon?

Also, you've cherry picked a very small one of dozens of groups at the protest. The unions weren't there to riot.

"I think it's easier to believe the cops were trying to blend in. Clearly others don't. I do think politics plays a role in this difference of opinion."

Also, naivete at not having been at any protests with riot confrontations, I suspect.
posted by anthill at 10:52 PM on August 22, 2007


"Anyways, you can't tell from the video whether or not the others were holding rocks, or bottles, or had mattresses or anything else."

From what I can see (in my brief "layman's analysis"):

00:02 - holding a camera (only)
00:26 - holding a protest sign
00:27 - (red backpack guy) holding nothing
01:02 - holding nothing
01:03 - (background) holding camera
01:05 - holding protest sign under arm

It seems far more likely to me that the Black Bloc "accessory recommendation list" for the day was:

Signs and/or cameras - yes.
Rocks and/or mattresses - no.
posted by numlok at 11:28 PM on August 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


It hurts to come late to this thread and suffer through dipshit's ceaseless defense of his careless phrasing. Carrying big damn rocks at a protest site is the very definition of inciting violence. Get over it already. man: you have literally made your credibility fubar in this thread.

The cops screwed the pooch on this one.

I'm curious to discover what nationality they were.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:01 AM on August 23, 2007


you'd want that cop fired

Not me. I'd want all those responsible fired, arrested, and jailed.

It'll never happen, but one can at least dream of justice for all.
posted by -harlequin- at 1:51 AM on August 23, 2007


Could you please tell me how they were trying to incite violence?

They were acting as what they thought was a plausible manner, pretending to be anarchist protesters one step from a riot. Unfortunately, it came off like it would if my parents suddenly pretended to be into hip-hop.

The police (I'm guessing Sûreté du Québec) just don't understand how these protesters operate, and they showed it on Monday.
posted by oaf at 2:31 AM on August 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


Oaf: The Sûreté have plenty of experience with anti-globalization protests in Quebec. Six years ago Quebec City hosted the Summit of Americas, where they made a green zone out of a large chunk of the city. It was the largest urban security operation in Canadian history and all-told a few hundred thousand Canadians showed up to protest the summit's discussions and the security operation itself. There have also been smaller demonstrations at meetings held in Montreal. Most of the radical bloc demonstrators at this event would have also been francophones from Quebec. The Sûreté are definitely not country bumpkins who've never seen a protest before.

This wasn't a case of some guys haplessly trying to fit in. Their efforts to disguise themselves now do appear pretty hapless, but that wasn't the reason for their presence. These guys had already moved to the front of the radical blocs. Given how quiet they were throughout, I have a hard time thinking that their intention was just to compel other protesters to violence. I think it's very likely that that rock the guy's holding was going to be thrown in order to give the riot police an on-camera excuse for dispersing the protest at a time when the demonstrators' distribution -- the union group at the front -- made it a potential media disaster to do so.

Had this trio of cops managed to throw their rocks and start that police violence shortly after 3 p.m., we wouldn't be hearing anything about them. Instead, the brief stories would have been "Summit Protests Turn Violent" and maybe "Union leaders embarrassed by actions of crowd." Maude Barlow and Dave Coles getting gassed and pepper sprayed wouldn't have made the A-roll.
posted by kowalski at 4:01 AM on August 23, 2007


The Sûreté are definitely not country bumpkins who've never seen a protest before.

They clearly didn't know how to deal with this one. At least not in a post-YouTube era. Ten years ago, they might have been able to achieve whatever it is that their aim was. With ubiquitous hand-held video cameras, it's harder to control all video evidence.
posted by oaf at 4:22 AM on August 23, 2007


The Sûreté have plenty of experience with anti-globalization protests in Quebec. Six years ago Quebec City hosted the Summit of Americas ...

Back then, they didn't bother to plant agents provocateurs, they just opened up with the tear gas and projectile weapons seemingly whenever they felt like it. I don't know how much of that was the Sûreté. Far as I know, it was pretty much unprecedented in Canada, and it was reported fairly widely, with some members of parliament calling for investigation into the excessive use of force by the various police agencies involved. Nothing much came of it, far as I remember, there wasn't the political will to pursue it very far. I guess someone mistakenly expected a similar magnitude of protest gatherings, and thought to try a different approach this time.

If they were responsible for this present incident, it shows just about the same level of competence and civility as what I remember hearing about the police action in Quebec 2001.
posted by sfenders at 6:14 AM on August 23, 2007


I've sent my letter to my MP. We'll see how this goes.
The story's picking up steam: it was on the front page of The Metro (a free paper), and all the major stations now have an article online about it.
posted by Meagan at 6:19 AM on August 23, 2007


I was at the protests in Québec City in 2001. I went as a film student hoping to turn the footage into something interesting.

When I was there, the cops wouldn't have needed to use provocateurs to stir up violence. No "protestors" I saw were being violent though, just local shit disturbers. It was like they heard there was a party downtown and showed up, beer in hand, to break stuff.

I got my bag searched twice, was told to turn my camera off, and had my goggles taken away by police. I'm a bit ashamed now at how quickly I let them search my bag, but they weren't letting anyone out of a contained area without searches and I was tired and my eyes hurt.
posted by ODiV at 7:59 AM on August 23, 2007


... had my goggles taken away by police.

Protection against gas? Interesting, if so. Do they bother to justify that? If so, I'm curious to hear how the argument runs.
posted by lodurr at 8:18 AM on August 23, 2007


I told them my eyes hurt and I needed the goggles. They told me I didn't have the right to have them. It wasn't exactly the high school debate club.

I've got it on film somewhere along with a puzzled officer holding my camera and looking into the lens. :P
posted by ODiV at 8:25 AM on August 23, 2007


Not to flog a dead horse, but is there an actual "right to have goggles" under Canadian or provincial law?

What I'm getting at is whether there's some tortured reasoning related to 'tools for mayhem', or some such -- e.g., the only use for goggles would be to engage in rioting.
posted by lodurr at 8:33 AM on August 23, 2007


Confiscation of protective equipment has become a frequent procedure at demos in Canada. I didn't witness this happen at QC (though I saw plenty of other awfulness), but at the OCAP marches in Toronto in October 2001, local police cordoned off the main square where marchers were to meet and searched the bags of everyone who wanted to enter, confiscating gas masks, goggles and all unsealed bottles, including medical supplies intended to treat people for gas exposure. I was covering the march for a student paper and was subjected to a barrage of questions, unproven allegations and gross intimidation by the officer searching me.

At that event, police attempted to preemptively control the news cycle by unveiling a supposed cache of materials that could be used as impromptu weapons that they had "discovered" in the square overnight. Their cordons, however, failed in preventing the march from outflanking them, and it was able to leave the square as two different arms that were able to lock down rotating parts of the downtown for a couple hours. For all their confiscation efforts ahead of time, once the march was out of the square the police didn't use gas or other measures, probably for fear of ending up with hundreds of inhalation cases in adjacent office towers. The plan there had probably been to bottle up the march within the square and then use their riot weapons against any group trying to force an exit.
posted by kowalski at 8:41 AM on August 23, 2007


Could you please tell me how they were trying to incite violence?

People in groups act stick together and tend to copy each other. This is human nature. If someone sits down to eat lunch, other people think, "maybe it's time for me to sit down and eat lunch." This idea may be rejected, but the idea is planted anyway.

If someone picks up a fist-sized rock...

Perhaps people don't understand the significance of holding having a fat rock in your hand? The significance is that you are brandishing a weapon, which is a threatening act, which is reason enough for law enforcement to remove the threat. When you are part of a group, as you are when you are in a demonstration, your act of picking up a rock turns the group into a threat ripe for removal.

You don't carry rocks when you're at a "peaceful assembly." The end.
posted by zennie at 9:30 AM on August 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Confiscation of protective equipment has become a frequent procedure at demos in Canada.

I don't think they'd do that here, in the US. I've gotten the impression from things other Canadian mefites have said that there's a subtle difference in mindset about civil misbehavior, between the US and Canada, and this might be a touchpoint. We wouldn't confiscate your gas mask, but we'd use the fact that you had it as evidence to convict you of intent to riot. ("He must have been planning to riot, he was ready for the gas.") Canadians will take it away, as if to say "You wanna riot? Inhale the gas with everyone else." Or, maybe: "How dare you try to lessen your punishment, you filthy social deviant!"

Subtly different framing: We are about blame, Canadians are about punishment. Maybe? Thoughts?

If I were really clever, I'd find a way to make some kind of wordplay about "freedom gas" or something...
posted by lodurr at 10:35 AM on August 23, 2007


I think the U.S. has a rather bad bout of freedom gas at the moment.
posted by oaf at 11:23 AM on August 23, 2007


lodurr- I'm sure that some individual cops get a kick out of depriving people of protection, but it's always seemed to be a strategy thing to me. The thinking is probably that if they take away your goggles, helmets, water, and first aid gear, you're less likely to cause trouble - or stick around to watch when they cause trouble. They can then display everything they confiscated on the TV news that night. (And remember, there was an ordinance passed banning gas masks in Seattle during the WTO protests).

But I've noticed that here in Toronto, cops tend to be a little more reasonable, focusing somewhat more on prevention than provocation, and being very aware of media tactics...

Of course, it depends on who's in power. When Fantino was Toronto's police chief, activists were treated like gang members, and the ETF (the closest analogy would be SWAT without helicopters and assault rifles) were a regular sight at protests.

I don't think it's a Canadian/American thing so much as it is a city-to-city thing. Ottawa likes to use liaison cops in white golf shirts and beat cops with cameras as their first line; Montreal opts for walls of riot cops as the default response. But maybe that's a Quebec thing, since the SQ are also an oddity - they were in it with dogs and tasers in Quebec City in 2001, while Ontario's provincial police handle highway traffic and legislative security. You'd almost never see them at protests, unless you're at Parliament Hill or Queen's Park.

But the RCMP Public Order Unit cops - the blokes in green in the video - are just crazy.
posted by poweredbybeard at 2:50 PM on August 23, 2007


CBC Radio just reported that Quebec Police have admitted that the three were cops. I can't find a link yet..
posted by Chuckles at 3:17 PM on August 23, 2007


Here you go.
posted by oaf at 3:48 PM on August 23, 2007


Here's the link. "In (sic) no time did the police of the Sûreté du Québec act as instigators or commit criminal acts," the news release states in French.
I suppose we now must determine if they're talking about the same three men we're talking about here. I wouldn't make that assumption, because it was pretty obvious to me that these three were carrying weapons (rocks) and acting as instigators. Maybe these three were Mounties, and this statement is a partial truth.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 3:49 PM on August 23, 2007


More to come is bloody right.
posted by kowalski at 4:01 PM on August 23, 2007


3) Also, it appears as though the black bloc knows from the beginning of the tape that those guys are cops, and are vocal about it. Perhaps that's why the tape is running?

video cameras are carried by many people at protests, for various reasons, and it's only natural that someone (two or three someones) would be standing at the forefront of a line (held by a protest VIP) to capture this footage.

turns out, surprisingly, that monitoring police-protester interactions by video camera is one of the ways to ensure your safety as a protester. they video us, we video them, and usually things go just fine and stay peaceful.

but yes, it is surprising that the camera-person got away with that footage. i imagine a quick sprint or a slow sidle backwards while the cop leaders are distracted. or not.

somewhere back about fifteen years ago, i got into a surreal little tussle over a camera with a cop. it was one of the those abortion clinic protests where Joe Scheidler and his little lambs of god were taking over the street to stage waves of crawling children to throw themselves upon the fetus-killers. (think little grasping zombies in polo shirts.) cops were (and i honestly don't remember why) arresting "defenders" of both black bloc and more colorful stripes. at one point, one tried to take the camera of someone from indymedia. indymedia camera-person wouldn't let go of his camera, and the cop wouldn't let go, and so, as the only one in the noticing vicinity, i grabbed on to "help" in this quiet little pulling match. it was obvious that the cop wasn't necessarily legally secure in his perceived right to take the camera (and thus less than convincing in his orders to give way), the camera-guy was talking constitutional rights in grunting little bursts, and ... it went on for what seemed like forever while we all simultaneously pulled and were afraid of dropping the very expensive piece of equipment. i believed it ended when the cop threatened us with arrest (for what? we asked) and sundry other less pleasant experiences. we were weak, as i remember, and folded in the face of scary-cop-itude.

in any case, the police could have easily claimed right (despite its obvious error) to this video and confiscated it ostensibly to "protect the anonymity of undercover law officers", and the footage would have never seen the light of day. bravo to the keeper of the camera. and to this glorious series of tubes.
posted by RedEmma at 4:07 PM on August 23, 2007


indymedia? fifteen years ago?
posted by poweredbybeard at 4:21 PM on August 23, 2007


as i recall, it was in the very very infancy stages. i don't know if they're still like this, but at that time it was just volunteers with their own cameras and cardboard/sharpie signs taped to the cameras identifying them. it was the first time i ever heard of them. (could have been as late as '96.)
posted by RedEmma at 4:51 PM on August 23, 2007


Of course, it depends on who's in power. When Fantino was Toronto's police chief, activists were treated like gang members, and the ETF (the closest analogy would be SWAT without helicopters and assault rifles) were a regular sight at protests.

They had assault rifles.
posted by Jairus at 6:47 PM on August 23, 2007


Well, given the story the Quebec police have offered (undercover as part of an ongoing investigation, were not there to incite), we're going to need an independent investigation to get anything out of this. Police are certainly permitted to commit crimes necessary to their investigation, and even though some sort of investigation is highly unlikely, they only have to claim it exists to get out of the seemingly-obvious crime of wielding a rock in that setting.

Ontario has recently moved towards independent oversight of police services for just these sorts of occasions, though I believe they're currently the only province to have implemented such legislation, so Quebec is out of luck.
posted by mek at 6:47 PM on August 23, 2007


The Toronto Star has posted a slightly more aggressive interpretation of today's Sûreté admission.
posted by kowalski at 8:19 PM on August 23, 2007


Police said the three were told to monitor protesters who were not peacefully demonstrating to prevent any violent incidents, but they were called out as undercover agents when they refused to throw objects.

What a pile of horseshit. You can hear Dave Coles demand loudly and clearly at least five times that they put the rocks down. Oh, right. They refused to "throw" them on the ground. Sure.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:43 PM on August 23, 2007


it is surprising that the camera-person got away with that footage.

This is weird. Short range video transmitters today are cheap, small, and easily battery powered. Why isn't anyone selling handi-cam cases that actually contain a bulletcam+transmitter, wherein the real handi-cam (and reciver), can be safely out of harms way.

Not only do you get to keep any footage so incriminating that police attempted to destroy it, but your financial losses are cut too, since a decent camera+transmitter is only $200, whereas a handi-cam (ie camera with built in media recording) is $500 and up.

I spot an opportunity to make $$$ :)
posted by -harlequin- at 8:55 PM on August 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


I spot an opportunity to make $$$ but much more importantly, do my part for world peace!

FTFM. Er... typo.
Honest.

:-)
posted by -harlequin- at 8:58 PM on August 23, 2007


Police said the three were told to monitor protesters who were not peacefully demonstrating to prevent any violent incidents, but they were called out as undercover agents when they refused to throw objects.

This is completely absurd, as undercover agents are in fact completely allowed to commit crimes to maintain their cover. No matter who you believe, these men and their director are incompetent and should be removed from service.
posted by mek at 9:50 PM on August 23, 2007


The police said after viewing a video clip from YouTube.com and video shot by police officers, they were able to confirm the three were Quebec provincial police officers.

WTF? They expect us to believe they needed to consult a YouTube video to identify a person they had in custody?

It will be interesting to see where the politicians take this. I hope heads roll: this kind of clumsy idiocy needs punishing.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:55 PM on August 23, 2007


No, wait. Maybe it was the police video that helped identify the people they had in custody as police officers.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:11 PM on August 23, 2007


What happened:
Peaceful protesters ask armed and masked men to put down their rocks. Masked men are actually police agents.

What was reported:
Police said the trio’s cover was blown when they refused to toss any objects.

While every word is arguably not a lie, the reader is effectively being told that it was the police that were the peaceful ones, in contrast to the protestors!

Now there's some spin from the police! And I bet it's successful on most readers too.
posted by -harlequin- at 11:33 PM on August 23, 2007


Quebec Provincial Police and the RCMP have both said they do not use agents to provoke violence.

This is also word for word true, while simultaneously a lie - there is no need to provoke any violence from the protesters, because the mere presence of the planted agents (if undiscovered) would allow the police to treat all the protesters as if they were being violent, even though none of them were.

The agents are not there to provoke violence, they are there to free up other people to start the violence - covering asses by faking a justification for starting violence.
posted by -harlequin- at 11:58 PM on August 23, 2007


Er... typo.
Honest.


Your nose grew between your two posts.
posted by oaf at 4:43 AM on August 24, 2007


Yes, but it's a great idea, and it's eminently home-brewable. Just need someone carrying a concealed storage device who always stays in range of the camera.

Maybe some protestors will plant the seed for these ideas. I can imagine lots of ways to do it: Little disguised limpet-cams stuck to buildings in the area or pointed out of strategic windows, the storage device could be miles or even countries away. Just need some clever system-integrator-type hackers to patch it all together.
posted by lodurr at 5:28 AM on August 24, 2007


Jairus-

They had assault rifles.

At a protest? When? Are you sure they weren't Arwens (without tear gas rounds attached they can look a lot like rifles) or plastic bullet guns?
posted by poweredbybeard at 9:36 AM on August 24, 2007


Marcel Savard of the Sûreté du Québec said that "one of the officers was given a rock by protesters but the officer had no intention of using it."

Do they actually expect anyone to believe that?
posted by oaf at 2:14 PM on August 24, 2007


although making sure expensive equipment and actual video doesn't get confiscated makes sense, and thus harlequin's idea works in some ways--the purpose of having a camera is not

1. Catch violence by police.
2. Profit and/or get protester points.

it is actually:
1. Show that you are obviously filming so as to prevent violence.
2. If you happen to catch police violence, anyway, be happy you have proof.
posted by RedEmma at 3:53 PM on August 24, 2007


I'm late to the party, but I'll add kudos to David Coles, the President of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union who put his balls on the line to call bullshit on this and he was right. He demanded that the masked men unmask (as he had done of the Black Bloc earlier in the day) and he challenged them in their face and later on national radio. In this CBC interview he talks about his years on picket lines where this kind of thing happens all of the time. It's quite cool to see what happens when someone with the wisdom and experience of Coles (and the other older activist) is able to be there to protect the integrity of peaceful demonstration when the police are so intent on getting something going. Even the National Post threw him a laurel.
posted by salishsea at 6:02 PM on August 24, 2007


And now, dammit, Stockwell Day (Minister in charge of RCMP &c) is saying the protestors were throwing rocks. Actually throwing them, contrary to all fucking evidence.

I hate that asshole.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:41 PM on August 24, 2007


It helps that Maude Barlow was there. Many, many people have met this lady face-to-face, and know she is one of our nicest, best citizens. The thought that she would countenance rock-throwing is laughable at best.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:48 PM on August 24, 2007


Stockwell day is the biggest asshole in Canadian politics. You can tell because W looked into his soul and went bike riding with him.
"The thing that was interesting in this particular incident, three people in question were spotted by protesters because were not engaging in violence, they were being encouraged to throw rocks and they were not throwing rocks, it was the protesters who were throwing the rocks.

That's the irony of this, because they were not engaging in violence, it was noted that they were probably not protesters. I think that's a bit of an indictment against the violent protesters."
Contradicting this, the Black Bloc kid (in uncertain english) tells the videographer at the beginning of the FPP video that the three cops were encouraging them to be violent. He said / he said, but given the credibility gaps on the police side, I'm not jumping to conclusions.

I haven't yet seen a video of protestors throwing rocks, which the police videographers should have captured. I don't see any reason for anyone to hold such footage back.
posted by anthill at 10:52 PM on August 24, 2007


OK, nevermind, I found a few rock vs. teargas videos... the question of who started it depends who you ask. All it takes is one person, cop or otherwise. But tear gas was definitely deployed preemptively.
posted by anthill at 11:16 PM on August 24, 2007


At a protest? When? Are you sure they weren't Arwens (without tear gas rounds attached they can look a lot like rifles) or plastic bullet guns?

At the OCAP rally right around the time Harris announced his resignation. Sitting on the top of a police van, scratching his back with extended stock of an MP5 while staring at the protesters who walked by.
posted by Jairus at 10:08 AM on August 25, 2007


RedEmma, good point. But it never hurts to have a backup.
posted by lodurr at 1:12 PM on August 25, 2007


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