Agents provocateurs active at Montebello?
Report of official cameraperson being roughed up follows videos from earlier in day of alleged police agents assaulting union leader.
MONTEBELLO, QC, August 21, 2007: Legitimate protestors at the Montebello summit talks believe they have been inflitrated and victimized by plainclothes agents of the police or security forces.
An amateur video posted on the website Youtube.com, yesterday, and entitled "Stop SPP Protest - Union Leader stops provocateurs" shows a national union president confronted and assaulted by masked men while attempting to keep protestors within boundaries set by authorities. The three men, dressed like "Black Bloc" anarchist protestors, defied Dave Coles, the President of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers of Canada, who directed them to stay in their designated area. "Take your mask off, brother," and "Put the rock down," Coles said repeatedly. The video shows one of the men (the one with the apparent rock), in a ball cap with the word "Spike" on it, hanging onto the bandana over his face and forcefully shoving Coles as he attempted to keep order.
Stuart Trew, of the Council of Canadians, saw the video and spoke with people who were there. "You'll hear them [the real "black flag anarchist" protestors from Quebec] screaming 'Policier, policier!' [police]. Eventually Coles looks the guy in the eyes and says 'You're a [cop], aren't you?'."
As Trew said, "They slip behind and start nudging the [SQ] police line. You can't see if they're saying anything because of their bandanas. The police let them through eventually and take them down to the ground, and appear to arrest them." Trew points out that two agitators had matching bandanas and that there was "a substantial size difference, and what looks likes an age difference" from other anarchist protestors, but admits it is almost impossible to prove they were police officers. [Subsequent pictures have shown they were also wearing identical boots to the tactical squad.]
[On August 22, Straightgoods.ca published a montage of still images extracted from the YouTube video... More below.]
The protest legal aid committee, however, received no report from authorities of their arrests, lending further credence to allegations the two were not genuine protestors. "Yes, these were definitely agent provocateurs, cops, and legal folks have no record of these supposed arrests," said Peoples Global Action (PGA) spokesperson John Hollingsworth at the Indie Media Centre.
Around 5 pm the same day, Canadian Press reported a video camera operator had been assaulted while running the "ProtestCam" camera that provided a video feed to the conference inside the Chateau Montebello. Although witnesses report the actual assault was done by a demonstrator, Hollingsworth says the demonstrator was provoked by his girlfriend having just been struck by a rubber bullet fired by police. It is often the case, he says, that police actions "provoke people into making stupid mistakes" which "create an excuse or pretext for police to sweep the area" with tear gas and rubber bullets.
There were, however, other reports of agents provocateurs among the protestors. Dan Sawyer, a member of PGA, told HarperIndex.ca "Our group did 'out' about three undercovers in the Black Bloc and pushed them back into the police line, and then they walked off."
[On August 23, the Sûreté de Québec admitted the three were SQ officers, assigned "to keep order and security"... More at the CBC story below.]
Protest organizers, most of whom appear to be there to protest the Security and Prosperity Partnership under discussion, worry that disorder at the protest, already constrained by extremely tight security, will discredit them. Stephen Harper, according to the CP story and on TV news, dismissed the protest as "sad".
"I've heard it's nothing," the prime minister was heard to say, when asked about the protest. "A couple hundred? It's sad."
Most reports put the figures at well above 1,000, although roadblocks have minimized public access from the main highway and into the village of Montebello. Tthe RCMP have denied protest organizers the use of public buildings and have erected massive barricades to keep protestors at bay.
By minimizing the significance, seriousness and size of the protest movement against his meeting with George W. Bush and Felipe Calderon, Stephen Harper is attempting to manage the messages coming from his summit. Whether he succeeds depends on which spectacle is seen as sadder: the protests - or the Prime Minister holding secret meetings about subsuming the Canadian military, Canadian energy, and important Canadian laws to the dictates of the US.
[On August 24, Dave Coles lamented that the undercover police controversy is "taking away from the issue, why we were there," by distracting the public from the secret discussions at the summit... More at the CTV story below.]
Related individuals, organizations and significant events
Democracy threat countered by Youtube and indie media - union leader Dave Coles
SPP is built around secrecy and US military command - law expert
Deep integration - TILMA and SPP to bring in rules to let corporations challenge our laws
Harper Conservative vs. Public Values Frame
Sad / Agents provocateurs
Security / Secrecy, police tactics
Links and sources
Stop SPP Protest - Union Leader stops provocateurs, YouTube.com video
Harper dismisses 'sad' summit protest as police fire tear gas
Harper's sad and secret spectacle at Montebello, August 22, 2007, Straightgoods.ca
Quebec police admit they went undercover at Montebello protest, August 23, 2007, CBC
Union head says controversy not the real issue, August 24, 2007, CTV
Posted: August 21, 2007
Harper Index (HarperIndex.ca) is a project of the Golden Lake Institute and the online publication StraightGoods.ca