Rebick’s Second Quebec Report (ZNet)


Richard Moore

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Subject: ZNet Free Update -- Rebick's Second Quebec Report
Date: Sun, 22 Apr 2001 17:12:17 -0400


Another on the scene report from Judy Rebick -- and if you
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By Judy Rebick

This weekend, the face of Canadian politics has changed. It
happened here in Quebec City, at a massive demonstration
against globalization.

Three things happened: The Peoples' Summit. The
Confrontations. And the discovery that there was No Peace
for the Peaceful.


This was a coalition of unions and non-governmental
organizations from across the Americas. Saturday, the summit
organized a diverse and colourful demonstration of about
60,000. People marched side-by-side down a six-lane
boulevard. It took them about an hour to pass through the
Lower Town that afternoon. The crowd was a generous mix of
many cultures. There were also giant puppets, street
theatre, drumming and a lot of dancing. Emma Goldman would
be proud.

While thousands of people walked slowly through the lower
part of the city, hundreds more - mostly youth - were locked
in battles with the police near the famous perimeter
surrounding the meeting place of the Summit of the Americas.

A major controversy among protesters was the decision of the
People’s Summit organizers to march away from the perimeter
yesterday. The main march turned right. Those wanting to
join the confrontations turned left. The majority followed
their leadership and turned right, but many were angry not
go to the perimeter. Instead, they went to a parking lot
several kilometres from the action.

March organizers argued that it was too dangerous to take
such a large march into the tiny streets of the old city. No
doubt the debate about the various tactics used this weekend
will continue for some time.


As well, there were a few fierce and prolonged
confrontations with police. These exchanges drew most of the
media attention.

In at least two locations, activists battled police in what
looked more like a war than a demonstration. This reporter
has never witnessed such a well-organized, sustained fight
between demonstrators and police. At the perimeter,
combatants positioned themselves on two sides of a wide
road. They advanced and retreated as police attacked with
tear gas, a water cannon and - later - plastic bullets. It
went on all afternoon and into the night.

According to the Ligue des droits et libertés (Quebec's
civil liberties union), violence escalated on Saturday
primarily because of police tactics. André Paradis,
executive director of that organization, told a press
conference on Sunday that police escalated their tactics in
three ways: First, they used tear gas from the moment of
confrontation. Second, they used more aggressive weapons -
such as water canons and plastic bullets. And third, they
left the perimeter and chased protesters into a residential
area, where some property damage occurred for the first time
in 48 hours of protest.

According to the union - which had thirty observers on the
ground - only 5 per cent of the protesters confronting
police were violent. "Most of the demonstrators in the Upper
Town [near the perimeter] were singing and dancing and
peaceful," said spokesperson Sam Boske.

Over the course of the day, a growing number of trade
unionists and others like the Council of Canadians joined
the direct action to support the youth who were battling

A full day before the planned demonstration, activist leader
Jaggi Singh was snatched from the street by five
plainclothes police officers. His bail hearing is not until
Wednesday. Singh has been charged with breaching a previous
bail order, participating in a riot and possession of a
weapon. The weapon in question was the theatrical catapult
that was used to hurl stuffed toys at police Friday.


Both Friday and Saturday saw mass peaceful civil
disobedience that involved at least 6,000 people. These
demonstrators were willing to face tear gas and the police
for their beliefs. Even so, some peaceful protesters were
treated with unexpected brutality.

Anna Dashtgard is the organizer of the Common Front Against
the World Trade Organization. She described a sit-in of
about 500 people on a side street near the fenced perimeter.
As people sang and held up peace signs, riot police
approached from two sides, trapping the group. After only
one warning, police hurled tear gas directly into the group.

"I’ve never experienced anything like this," said Dashtgard
- who also participated in protests at Seattle and Windsor.
"It was so brutal."

After dispersing, some people regrouped in different places.
One cluster of protesters was assaulted without warning.
They believe the weapons of choice were concussion bombs.
Another group was warned that police were about to clear the
streets. Most of the protesters - frightened by the tear gas
canons pointed directly at them - walked away. "The riot
police trampled over the few who remained," said Josephine,
an activist who was shaken by the experience.

It was impossible to approach the areas where the perimeter
had been breached without feeling the painful sting of tear
gas. Yet thousands of people, most of them young, climbed
the stairs and streets to the Upper City. This is where the
standoffs between police and protesters continued all day.

Plastic bullets injured several people - including one woman
who was hit in the throat. She required an emergency

As of Sunday morning, 450 people had been arrested. People
were held in jail, denied the right to contact their lawyers
or their families, and without food, reported Quebec's civil
liberties union. Both male and female accused were stripped
and left naked in front of others. These abuses were
corrected after the union intervened.


Judy Rebick is the publisher of, a new interactive
online magazine born the same week as the Summit. For a lot
more Quebec coverage, check out


Richard K Moore
Wexford, Ireland

    A community will evolve only when
    the people control their means of communication.
    - Frantz Fanon

    "One cannot separate economics, political science, and
    history. Politics is the control of the economy. History,
    when accurately and fully recorded, is that story. In most
    textbooks and classrooms, not only are these three fields of
    study separated, but they are further compartmentalized into
    separate subfields, obscuring the close interconnections
    between them" -- J.W. Smith, The World's Wasted Wealth 2,
    (Institute for Economic Democracy, 1994), p. 22.

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