Student union's human rights complaint against Montreal police -

Student union’s human rights complaint against Montreal police

“If you do nothing illegal, we won’t bother you,” say police.

Photo courtesy of Yannick Gingras on Flickr

A Quebec student lobby group claims that a Montreal police squad, which monitors anarchists and “marginal political groups,” has violated the province’s Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.

Now, they’re going to file a human rights complaint.

Four members of  L’association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante, including three of the group’s executives, were arrested in connection with several protests in late March against higher tuition fees. Some of those protests turned violent.

The group claims that those arrested were targeted because of their political views. “There is no doubt about the political nature of these arrests,” ASSÉ spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois said in a press release. “This is clearly an attempt by the [Montreal police] to decapitate the Quebec student movement on the eve of one of its historical struggles.”

Montreal police deny that the arrests were politically motivated. “When you occupy an office and someone gets a broken wrist and there’s a broken window, that’s not a peaceful demonstration,” spokesperson Ian Lafrenière told the Montreal Gazette. “I agree that people should be allowed to demonstrate. If you do nothing illegal, we won’t bother you.”

The human rights complaint focuses on the police’s Guet des activites des mouvements marginaux et anarchistes (surveillance of the activities of marginal movements and anarchists) or GAMMA squad, which ASSÉ claims conducted the arrests. Police said GAMMA did not make the arrests in question and that the squad was formed as a reaction to increasing levels of violence at protests.

Another activist group, the Coalition Against Repression and Police Brutality, has also filed a complaint accusing the squad of discriminating against people based on their political views.

ASSÉ says it represents more than 40,000 students across Quebec.