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For more useful English-language sources on the conflict, see:
A police officer of the rapid deployment force reveals his state of mind
Daniel Renaud Journal de Montréal May 25, 2012
[Trans. note: We absolutely do not condone what is said in this interview, but rather we share it so that people can see the rationalizations being made by the police in the context of Bill 78, police violence, and mass arrests.]
Montreal’s police force has been subjected to a frenzied rate of interventions over the past three months.
Night after night, officers of Montreal police force’s anti-riot squad might be considered “robots” by protesters, yet they are humans who also have their own fears, their own feelings, and their own opinions on the student conflict that has lasted for three months now. The Journal sat down with one of them and has summarized the interview in this Q&A.
How can you remain staunchly unmoved in front of protesters who insult you and hurl objects at you?
“We are trained for that. We hold back by telling ourselves that our boss will soon give us the order to charge. It’s our candy. What pisses us off the most is when we’re hit by objects and our officers don’t give us the order to charge.”
Do you hesitate to use your truncheon and are you afraid of hurting someone?
“No, we have no hesitation. However, we are trained to know how to hit and not hurt someone. We aim for the stomach, the front of the thighs and the arms, for example”. “When a protest is declared illegal, people have no more business there. They can raise their arms in the air and give us peace and love signs as much as they want, they’re gonna be arrested anyways”. “The guys call it National Geographic because when we charge, the kids run like gazelles! The kids find us athletic despite the 65 pounds we’re carrying on our backs.”
What’s the percentage of protesters who wish to challenge you?
“Around 20% of protesters want a confrontation. They’re kids who just want to make a mess of everything and I find that aberrant”.
What do you think of the manner in which this conflict has been managed by the higher ups since the beginning?
“It’s not perfect, there’s a little frustration out there, but there is more satisfaction. Chief Parent comes to see us each night to back us up and we’re getting better all the time”.
What do you think about the acts of police brutality that we’re constantly seeing being looped on the Internet and in the media?
“I would like the journalists to be more critical of those who are complaining about the brutality. We are not perfect, but I think that the guys are working well and that there are misdemeanors, there haven’t been many in three months”. “There was the case of the female officer 728. On the video, the videographer says that she’s giving our whole service a bad rap and it’s a little true. I find it a shame”. “However, many are complaining for nothing. The 500 who were arrested the other night and were complaining about not being allowed to piss when they were all crammed in a bus. We weren’t gonna bring them to the Hilton”.
Do you believe that the city and the government should have been more rigid?
“Yes, mass arrests and hefty fines should have happened from the very beginning. But now, it can’t be stopped. I don’t believe in the negotiations that are to start Monday”.
Do you think that the government should tone it down?
“Both parties should tone it down, but the government should not back down on the tuition hikes, or else I’ll get mad. And I’m not a liberal, I hate Jean Charest and I’d never vote for him”.
What do you think is at the origin of this conflict?
“The tuition hike is justifiable. Here in Quebec, we’re in a shitty situation. Can we have free education on top of universal health care, 7$ daycare, etc. They are spoiled brats who want it all and don’t want to pay for it”.
Translated from the original French by Translating the printemps érable.
*Translating the printemps érable is a volunteer collective attempting to balance the English media’s extremely poor coverage of the student conflict in Québec by translating media that has been published in French into English. These are amateur translations; we have done our best to translate these pieces fairly and coherently, but the final texts may still leave something to be desired. If you find any important errors in any of these texts, we would be very grateful if you would share them with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please read and distribute these texts in the spirit in which they were intended; that of solidarity and the sharing of information.