Far-right La Meute protesters holed up in parking garage

After being confined to an underground parking lot for several hours, members of La Meute were finally able to demonstrate in the streets of Quebec City late Sunday, against what they call “illegal immigration”.

With nearly four hours of delay, members of La Meute, an anti-immigration identity movement whose speech flirts with those of far-right, chose to walk in silence, letting speak the slogans inscribed on their posters.

The best way to show that we are people who respect public order is to make a silent demonstration. It also attracts attention.

 Sylvain Brouillette, spokesperson for La Meute

According to the organizers, some 600 people took part in the demonstration to denounce the government’s inaction on asylum seekers .

“It does not make any sense any more, it takes two, three miles. Our country is falling into ruin with the crazy Liberals in power, “said Richard Maltais, a far-right activist from Chicoutimi to take part in the demonstration.

If the march of La Meute went without a hitch, the counter-demonstration organized by anti-racist activists experienced slippages in the afternoon. The Quebec police reported only one arrest.

Six protesters were transported to the hospital after being injured in clashes between a dozen activists and police.

Events

In the early afternoon, members of La Meute found themselves locked in an underground parking lot by the Quebec City Police Department (SPVQ), who mentioned security reasons.

Outside, on the rue Louis-Alexandre-Taschereau, several hundred militants participating in the counter-demonstration had gathered. The crowd, however, divided into two groups, one remaining in front of the building to await the exit of the members of The Pack.

Approximately 600 members of La Meute are waiting in a parking lot. Photo: Radio-Canada / Mathieu Dion
Approximately 600 members of La Meute are waiting in a parking lot. Photo: Radio-Canada / Mathieu Dion

The other group headed for rue Jacques-Parizeau, where a dozen demonstrators began to explode fireworks. A few also launched smoke bombs, which led the SPVQ to declare the demonstration illegal, around 2:15 pm.

“A first demonstration was declared illegal after a group of hostile and masked demonstrators committed acts of violence, vandalism and several criminal offenses,” SPVQ spokesman David Poitras said.

Some hooded militants took the direction of the Rue Grande-Allée to attack commercial businesses.

Other smoke bombs, chairs and glass bottles were then thrown at the police. Fires were also lit in garbage cans.

Counter-demonstrations

Gathered for the “Citizens’ demonstration against racism”, counter-demonstrators denounced the discourse of The Pack, which they consider discriminatory against newcomers.

I find it really deplorable movements like ‘remigration’. It is a really dangerous situation, it must not slip.

 Christian Carles, anti-racist protester

“We have to show that there is a clear opposition and that they can not speak on behalf of the city of Quebec,” said Sarah, a demonstrator who wanted to be present to demonstrate ” That there is not only the extreme right in Quebec “.

“This is a way of ensuring that groups like The Pack know that there is opposition and that they do not evolve as a political entity,” said Titus Banerjee, Of Montreal to participate in the counter-demonstration.

Confrontations avoided between the two camps

In light of the events, François Doré, a police analyst, concludes that law enforcement officials have kept control over demonstrations, including declaring them illegal as soon as acts of violence and vandalism have been committed.

Like the scenario in Boston on Saturday, when the authorities kept the demonstrators away from the counter-demonstrators, the police deployed in Quebec City managed to prevent contacts between the two camps, he maintains.

“This safe space allows both groups to chant their slogans, but not to compete,” says Mr. Doré, in an interview with RDI.

It must be a debate of ideas, not of violence.

 François Doré, former member of the SQ and an analyst in police affairs

Confined in the underground parking, the members of La Meute thus avoided the confrontation with the protesters who waited outside, divided into several small groups.

Among them, the presence of the black block was noticed, but several people who demonstrated did not belong to a group prone to violence, says Mr. Doré.

“The black block will show up unexpectedly in the demonstrations, in order to make the break. [Its members] hope for a confrontation with the police, it is regular. Some are difficult to identify “and they succeed in infiltrating the ranks of the demonstrators, according to the former police officer of the Sûreté du Québec.

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About the Author: Sidney Martin

Sidney Marin Is a researcher and law student at York University (TORONTO). He has worked as the Director of the Graduate Lawyering Program. He worked for American law firms in Moscow, Russia for three years. Hegraduated from Columbia Law School, Columbia School of International and Public Affairs and Harvard College. He research interest is in human rights and health law, with a particular focus on the law and policy of vaccination.