More on Quebec

Stuart Lawrence stuartwl at
Mon Apr 23 21:05:51 MDT 2001

Putting more general questions role about the Black Blocks aside, in Quebec they
were among those who had reached the most realistic conclusions about the
potential for various forms of direct action against the summit and thus focused
on what was really the only meaningful target of direct action: the security
fence around the summit venue. Protesters, police, and Quebec's citizens
recognized the symbolic and physical importance of the 4-meter tall concrete and
chain-link barrier. The police showed little interest in anything that happened
outside the immediate vicinity of the perimeter until the crowds they pushed
back on Saturday night moved into the lower town's commercial area. The rage of
the demonstrators was similarly focused on the fence and the lines of r, leaving
I saw almost no police presence around the Friday and Saturday marches that
started in other parts of town -- amazing to someone used to New York-style
crowd control. This gave protests the opportunity to change direction and
tactics as the situation dictated -- exactly what the NYPD crowd-control experts
try to avoid.

The only measurable victories in the battle on the Quebec's streets were when
the universally hated wall was toppled or cut down and when the hermetic
isolation of the summit was penetrated by the blowback of tear gas and the
relentless din of rocks and sticks clanging against highway guardrails and
signposts. Had the 30,000-person march organized by Canadian trade unions
brought a show of solidarity to the direct-action protestors by proceeding
toward the perimeter instead of to a remote park, the unity and scale of the
protest could only have been greater. Instead of focusing on one group committed
to resisting the claims of legitimacy and authority by the ruling class, why
don't we discuss why it is that union-organized demonstrations turn right when
the place where the bad stuff is going on is to the left.

Having traveled from the USA to Quebec, I deliberately stripped of even a scrap
of paper that might link me to the anti-FTAA protests, let alone a gas mask, but
the latter now appears to have become essential equipment for participation in
"civil society."

stuartwl at

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