The most prestigious University in Jordan, as some will pledge. A flowering garden of youth, of energy, of will, and yet when one questions the politics, the student clubs, groups and activities, the movements, one is met with silence. A community of over twenty thousand students and I am shot down and told student voices are futile attempts. Is this no longer of importance to these minds, I wonder to myself. Am I in the wrong place, I ask myself as I choose a bench with the names Shareef and Noor sprawled in large letters across the seat? Have the demonstrations, the movements been washed away by the lies of those above?
The park, like the movements that came to Jordan in November, no longer exists in the minds of these students. It seems the boys outside prefer the gravel sidewalk over the greenery of the park. It seems the massive wooden doorway has hidden from them the freedom behind its frame. If they would only take a step, they would see. They are blinded into enjoying the gravel, not knowing that were they to simply turn around, a world of change awaits. As I close my notebook and retrieve my bag from the soil ground, I look up and see the shadow of a man lying beneath one of the hills. My lips flex into a smile. Perhaps, I think, perhaps there is hope.]]>
Below is a list of first-person accounts from the manifencours/casseroles actions in Quebec, and protests held in solidarity elsewhere. This page will be updated as we receive new stories, so check back often. Don’t let the corporate media speak for you; if you are in Quebec or working in solidarity, tell us what you’re seeing. Submit your story.
Montreal, QC — Fragility & Heartbreak, Montreal, Night 115 Within hours, the students went from having the offensive to letting the government’s scare tactics gain the upper hand again.
Montreal, QC — “In the Street for Social Strike,” Night 110 In Mile End, a three-hour-long mini social strike springs up to mobilize for August 13.
Montreal, QC — A Sticky “Maple Spring,” Night 103 At an assembly, Cindy meets a longtime organizer, and the two discuss language and branding for the strike.
Montreal, QC — Popular Power: “Fuck the Elections,” Night 101 The casseroles gain momentum again after the 100th night, and one demonstration is met with violence not by the police, but a rogue civilian.
Montreal, QC — 100 Red Nights / 100 Victories, Night 100 A gift of one love letter per night, for each of the one hundred nights that so many tens of thousands shared the streets of Montreal together.
Montreal, QC — Revving up for August, Night 94 As August draws quickly near, people in Montreal assemble to strategize the probable re-openings of schools.
Montreal, QC — Pieces from Orchestrole 4, Night 93 The fourth orchestrole march in Montreal takes the streets and passes through an upscale row of restaurants to meet the dining crowd.
Montreal, QC — A Small Red-Square Story, Night 87 After 3 weeks of the Mile-End Orchestrole, Cindy hands out red squares as outreach to a very receptive crowd.
Montreal, QC — Exile & Austerity, Night 86 Cindy Milstein discusses home, community, and exile in the context of the Maple Spring.
Montreal, QC — Lost (& Found) in Translation: Social Solidarity, Night 82 Cindy considers different acts and moments of solidarity personally experienced so far during the Maple Spring.
Montreal, QC — Making Our Own Revolutionary Dates, Montreal, Nights 75 & 78As August approaches, Montreal’s demos wane in participation but not in pace as the new term approaches.
Montreal, QC — Listen, You Can Hear the Sound of Direct Democracy, or Orchestroles, Night 72 One of the incredible things about the Maple Spring has been it’s ability to evolve tactics quickly and effectively.
Montreal, QC — Manifest Your Dreams, Prelude to Night 73 (in C minor) The student-and-social strikes are self-generative via the doing of imagination—as opposed to passive consumption of “imagination.”
Montreal, QC — “No School[,] But Learning,” Night 68: In a time of transformation everywhere, Cindy realizes the need to think critically in all matters.
Montreal, QC — The (Street) Art of Stirring Things Up, Night 66: In the midst of protests in Montreal, anti-authoritarian street art crops up and provokes its audience.
Montreal, QC — Even Rebels Need to Rest, Night 65: After a smaller than usual demo, Cindy Milstein reflects on the arc of the movement sweeping Montreal and the importance of reflection and rest.
Montreal, QC — Lost in Translation: Maple Spring, Night 63: ” I’m on a journey of discovery here — as an “American” anarchist in a Francophone-driven social movement in Quebec Province”
Montreal, QC — Casseroles & Anticapitalism, Montreal, Night 61: The casseroles march pauses for a brief direct action, but keeps on the move ahead of police.
Montreal, QC — “Queer & Feminista! Anticapitalista!” Montreal, Nights 53 & 60: The queer pink bloc march exhibits a fierce defiance against the police in Montreal.
Montreal, QC — A Little Bit of Direct Democracy (for Now): Montreal, Day 55: The CLASSE Congress demonstrates a great example of direct democracy that puts others to shame.
Montreal, QC — Photos: June 10, Metro Profiling at the Grand Prix: Protesters are profiled entering the Grand Prix, causing many pre-emptive arrests without explanation.
Montreal, QC — Photos: June 9th, Anti-Sexism and Nighttime Mayhem: Scenes from an anti-sexism protest that unravels into police action and arrests.
New York, NY–Like most L train commuters I generally put on my headphones and wait for the wave to rush out at Union Square, but tonight was very different. I was on my way to Washington Square Park for my 2nd casseroles march with OWS. Sans headphones or book in an attempt to travel light, I couldn’t help but overhear a conversation between a couple sitting across from me. A young woman was telling her boyfriend about the student uprising in Canada that had been going on for over 100 days—how hundreds of thousands filled the street each night demanding free education. “I had no idea about any of this until you sent me the Facebook invite this afternoon,” he said. “Do you think people will actually show up?”
I smiled, we were in Union Square and I had my chance. I tapped them on the shoulder and told them my name, about the site and that I thought it was awesome that they decided to come out and stand in solidarity with people they may never meet. I also invited them to continue coming out, letting them know this march happens every night at 8pm and won’t stop until they do, how could anyone possibly be against the higher education of its country’s youth? Wishing them well, I began down Broadway to Washington Square.
Surprisingly only a handful of NYPD blue shirts flanked the north entrance upon my arrival. Being a bit late I thought I may have missed the march but to my relief about 250 of my comrades were standing on the north side of the fountain making signs, soapboxing and chatting amongst themselves. After a few minutes of wandering I found my friend Joe and could feel the march preparing to leave. I readied myself with my saucepan lid and noticed the couple from the subway out of the corner of my eye. I smiled and we began to march.
As we marched, the sounds of our pots and pans filled the air and our chanting echoed off the buildings… the blue shirts were beyond overwhelmed and didn’t know how to react. The streets were ours from the moment we stepped out of that park.
Marching down Broadway, residents came out onto their balconies to see what the commotion was about. A large majority clapped along with us, some even bringing out pots and pans and joining! Something about this march was different; tonight we weren’t just taking the streets. We were taking our message to the city, to the world. All of it—every side street and major road, from small towns to big cities. From Montreal to NYC, education must be free.
A small group of us began running to upcoming intersections and blocking traffic for the oncoming march, a tactic I had seen used quite effectively in Chicago at the recent #noNATO demonstrations and heard had been used in South American protests to the same end. It worked just as well for us. A few of us, some on bikes, some on foot, would run up to the intersection before the light turned and stand in the crosswalk. The support from most motorists was shockingly positive, some honking in support or even hanging their arm out of the window to give a high-five or pound. Many drivers and their passengers asked what we were doing, why we were marching. After explaining to them why we were there they each replied exactly the same: “I had no idea any of this was happening, good for you!” to which each of us would reply in our own way “That’s why we are here.” Sometimes you can’t help but love New York.
As I ran up to block traffic for my comrades I noticed the march had seemingly doubled since I last checked, we were pulling people off of their couches and into the streets. SUCCESS! Until I noticed the amount of police officers had more than doubled, too. We were now being followed by a few cars/vans, and more on foot. They were trying to catch up to the front and cut us off, force us onto the sidewalk. The march began to twist and turn down streets in an attempt to dodge the corrals. One cop in particular started getting rough, pushing us around and ripping bandanas off. We hadn’t even made it to Union Square yet and the tension in the air was thick. Shit was gonna go down.
We broke into a run on 5th avenue in an attempt to evade the vans and I found myself separated from the group. I continued up 5th Ave and down 14th where I met them at the corner of University. We made it, or so I thought. We continued around the park and again I ran into Joe. Apparently we were taking the city and would be heading to Madison Square Park from here. Our group, as strong as ever, surged uptown against traffic.
The police had no choice but to pursue us on foot and frankly couldn’t keep up. We bobbed and weaved between cars. Some on bikes intentionally blocked pathways between cars behind the group in an attempt to slow our captors. We were finally working as a group, using the tactics and training we spent all winter developing and all spring perfecting. It was beautiful to watch it all come together.
As we headed further and further uptown the ever-gracious company of the boys in blue increased. Our presence was less than desired in midtown and as we approached Madison Square Park, we realized it had been closed. This did nothing to discourage us but gave the police the opportunity to corral us onto the sidewalk. Unfortunately for them, they forgot about the entire west side of the march and again we broke into a run toward the heart of the city. Destination: Times Square.
As we marched up against traffic, the lights of Times Square were almost surreal. We had done it. Pots and pans in hand the entire time. We made it to TIMES SQUARE! We danced with tourists and shared our new-found instruments! Bystanders joined in our chants and it was like you could sense a better world on the horizon. Demonstrators and tourists in the streets, dancing and chanting “When Education is under attack, what do we do? STAND UP, FIGHT BACK!” Counter Terrorism on the other hand did not find our display quite as entertaining and we were shortly pushed from our celebration and once again onto the sidewalks.
Blue and White shirts alike began to surround the rear of the march, pushing those in the back to walk faster. Rather than simply closing the sidewalk, as is standard NYPD procedure these days, a new speed limit had been implemented and we just were not walking fast enough. I narrowly avoided the police charge but the young girl behind me was not so lucky. I watched as friends grabbed at her in an attempt to unarrest, but were overpowered by the three huge beats ripping her to the ground. Jabbing their knees into her back for speaking her mind. For crossing the street with the right of way. This was their way of separating us. Allowing half the march to cross while the other was held up in the madness. We reconnected across from our original goal of the Red Stairs and decided our night would not end until we took our fight to the Canadian Consulate, so on we marched.
We continued to weave through streets and were headed up 5th Avenue when I heard a chant erupt, not at all unfamiliar but one that had not be used all night. We had found an undercover in our ranks! I had recently experienced this same situation in Chicago and both times they acted exactly the same. Frozen, they walked toward the wall of cops, head hung low as we chanted “See a cop, say a cop!” only this time his brothers in blue denied him. As he broke into a sprint down the street to avoid our cameras a few livestreamers took chase to get a shot of his face. I don’t think he will be coming back very soon.
We ducked down more side streets until we were finally walking up 6th Avenue once more, and with Radio City Music Hall in sight we took the fountain in front of the Canadian Consulate. It was a beautiful night, still relatively early, and people were milling around as we Mic Check’d. We announced our successful march from Washington Square Park all the way uptown to the Consulate to onlookers, and told them why we decided to end there, inviting them all to join us again the following night and EVERY NIGHT at 8pm in Washington Square Park. We were jubilant as we relaxed around the fountain, some said goodnight, others chatting. But of course with OWS things never end that simply. A white shirt announced that the building, whose fountain seating area had previously been occupied by falafel-eating tourists, had advised them the same space was off limits to us and asked that we disperse or face arrest. Slowly we said our goodbyes, it had been a long night and we needed a moment to catch our breath. Less than a moment was all it took. They darted in and arrested two more for continuing to sit as we said our goodbyes, throwing an NLG observer into the marble fountain in order to form a wall and trap us so we had no choice but to walk north or south. Other pedestrians passed freely as the NYPD dragged their latest victims to the paddy wagon. I had had enough for one night and after saying final goodbyes began my walk to the subway. You would think after 8 months one would become desensitized to senseless violence but I just can’t seem to reach that point. I guess it must be because I’m human.
– Nicole Rose –]]>
Montréal, Cananda – On May 1, 2012, thousands of students and other protesters took to the streets for the Anti-Capitalist rally in downtown Montréal. I attended the protest with a couple friends, and having read the “news” emanating from the “stenographers of power” (the mainstream media), it’s important to set the record straight about what happened here in Montréal.
The Montreal Gazette reported the events with the headline, “Police respond as May Day anti-capitalist protesters turn violent in Montreal.” This exact story and headline were carried across the English-speaking media fresh for the morning’s papers: with the Vancouver Sun, the Province, the Calgary Herald, the Regina Leader-Post, the Edmonton Journal, and the Ottawa Citizen.
The story, as they tell it, goes like this: it started peacefully just after 5 p.m. (this part is true!), and then it “was declared illegal by police at two minutes after 6 p.m. following violent clashes.” A police spokesperson (who apparently is the only person the media chose to interview for their article) said that, “injuries to a citizen, police officers and vandalism on cars and property were the reasons for declaring the march illegal.” The article then blamed “black-clad youth [who] were seen hurling rocks at store windows,” after which the police began to launch flash grenades, and the riot police moved in after 6 p.m. “using batons to disperse the crowd.” At 7:10 p.m., “a full hour after declaring the demonstration illegal, police announced that anyone who refused to leave would be arrested.”
The CBC went with the headline, “More than 100 arrests in Montreal May Day riot.” CTV reported that of the 100+ arrests that took place, “75 were for unlawful assembly, while the remaining 34 were for criminal acts.”
So, arrested for “unlawful assembly”: what does that mean? It means that when the police unilaterally declare a protest to be “illegal,” everyone who is there is “unlawfully assembling,” and thus, mass and indiscriminate arrests can be made. In Part 1, Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it is stated that “[e]veryone has the following fundamental freedoms”: conscience, religion, thought, belief, expression, media, communication, association, and “freedom of peaceful assembly.”
Having been at the protest from its beginning, I can say that it was a peaceful march. While there were individual acts of vandalism (the worst I saw was drawing on a bank’s window with a black marker), if police action were to be taken, it should be to arrest the specific vandal. Instead, they implemented collective punishment for exercising our “fundamental freedoms.”
The protest began in the Old Port of the city of Montréal, and made it’s way down rue Notre-Dame, up St-Laurent, and down to the financial district. The mood was good, people were in high spirits, with music, drums, the occasional fire cracker, young and old alike.
The march had been successfully split, and the small factions were then being isolated and surrounded. Suddenly, riot police were everywhere, marching up the street like storm troopers, police cars, vans, horses, motorcycles, and trucks were flying by. As one faction of the protest continued down another street, the riot police followed behind, while another massive onslaught of riot police went around to block off the protesters from the other side. When the police first charged, I had lost one of my friends simply by looking away for a moment. After having found each other up the street, we watched as the protest which descended down the street was surrounded by police from nearly every side. It was then that we saw flash grenades and tear gas being launched at the crowd of people. There was a notable smell that filled the air.
As we stood, shocked and disturbed by what had just happened, we made our way toward McGill to see where other protesters were headed when we saw a group of riot police “escort” three young protesters whom they had arrested behind a police barricade at the HSBC (protecting the banks, of course!).
Up the street, and across from McGill, one protester who had run to get on the bus was chased down by several riot police who then threw him face-first onto the pavement, and as a crowd quickly gathered around (of both protesters and pedestrian onlookers), the police formed a circle around the man and told everyone to “get back!” and then they began marching toward us, forcing the crowd of onlookers to scatter as well. The police then took the young man over to where the other protesters were being “collected” at the HSBC.
There was one young girl, with the notable red square patch on her jacket (the symbol of the Québec student movement) who had to be taken away on a stretcher into an ambulance. We don’t know what happened to her.
As more and more police gathered, we decided it was time to leave, walking down the street through which the police had chased the protesters, remnants of signs, red patches, and other debris spilled across the streets; the remains of a peaceful protest ended with police violence.
This has become all too common in Montréal and across Québec, as the student protest enters its twelfth week, having had over 160 protests, an average of 2-3 per day. As the demonstrations take place, the police have used obscure and unconstitutional city by-laws in both Montréal and Québec City which are so vague in their descriptions that any peaceful assembly or march can be declared illegal. Those who are indiscriminately arrested are fined $500, and if arrested again, are charged between $3,500 and $10,500.
It is clear that the State has decided – unilaterally – that freedom of speech and freedom of assembly do not confirm to their specific “by-laws,” and are clamping down on students and protesters in order to quiet and crush the student strike and the emerging social movement which is being referred to as the ‘Maple Spring’. The national media, for its part, has decided to demonize the students, the protesters, and the people; taking the word of a “police spokesperson” over everyone else. Having been at the protest, however, I must question whether these so-called “journalists” were at the same event, because we witnessed two entirely different scenarios.
We entered the march in good spirits, and the police ended it in violence and repression, leaving us standing still, scattered, and disturbed; but our spirits are not crushed, our resolve is only growing stronger, and for each act of violence the police and State impose upon the people, we begin to see them for what they truly are, and thus, what is truly at stake: our very freedom, itself!
-Andrew Gavin Marshall-
Editors note: read all our May Day coverage here.