A man arrested at Thursday’s march against police repression around the G20 Summit has come forward to reveal that he was assaulted by undercover “agents provocateurs” when he attempted to film them.
While 1,000 Montrealers, including many parents with young children, marched to denounce the abusive police treatment of G20 protestors, Montreal police apparently attempted to introduce agent provocateurs into the march. The provocateurs were spotted trying to enter the march on Sherbrooke Street, but were forced out by attentive march organizers. Two videos of the group of provocateurs were posted on youtube on Friday:
“They were big guys, looking like thugs. In fact, they looked very much like the police provocateurs who were caught on video carrying rocks at the protest against the Security and Prosperity Partnership in Montebello, Quebec in August 2007,” stated Scott Weinstein, who decided to bicycle over to film the group when informed of their presence.
When he caught up to them, the provocateurs were walking one block east of the march, on St-Dominique, parallel to most of the children and babies who tended to be near the end of the march.
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“The police had no business playing these games and threatening violence, especially when so many children were present,” explained Weinstein, a health care worker and photographer. “Their strategy is totally unacceptable.”
The group quickly surrounded Weinstein, grabbed him and attempted to take his camera from him. He refused to let go. They dragged Weinstein to the sidewalk and kneed him until he could no longer hold onto the camera. “I knew they wanted to erase the evidence, especially since I didn’t hide I was filming them. I made sure not to touch them, instead I tried to protect myself in a fetal position and screamed for help.”
Janet Cleveland, a psychologist, was leaving the march and returning home when she heard screams. “I saw 5 or 6 burly young guys dressed in black forming a tight circle around someone, holding his hands behind his back and pushing his face to the pavement while he screamed for help. It was scary – my first thought was that they might be skinheads beating somebody up. There was no way to tell the difference. But they told me that they were police and that I should stay away.”
Cleveland stayed to watch as Weinstein was forced into a police car and then alerted Quebec Solidaire MPP Amir Khadir, who also attended the march. Khadir intervened with the police immediately after the arrest to denounce the arbitrary, abusive and illegal character of Weinstein’s arrest.
“Quebec citizens expect the police to respect the democratic rights of people who demonstrate”, stated Khadir. “Dissent and opposition are not only permitted in this country, but must also be protected and celebrated. I am particularly proud of people like Scott who protest peacefully to denounce the abuse and violence of police repression in Toronto. It is unacceptable that Montreal police use the same tricks that led to the excesses of the security agencies in Toronto,” he stated.
Three police ethics commission reports in April 2010 found that filming the police is legal.
Weinstein was released the same evening but faces bogus charges of assault with a weapon. According to a police spokesperson, his bicycle was the weapon. However, as events revealed, Weinstein’s real “weapon” was his camera: when police returned it to him, all video and photo material had been erased.
Luckily for Weinstein, a bystander caught the incident on camera and posted it to youtube. Weinstein is trying to get in touch with this person.
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