GAMMA: United we win!
The creation of a new (?) task force within the Montreal police department (SPVM), specifically targeting anarchists and ‘marginal people’ demands our attention. The existence of a political police in Quebec and in Canada is nothing new. Whether it be under Duplessis, Trudeau or Charest, police development comes with surveillance, harassment, and repression of groups and individuals for whom the status quo means institutionalised injustice.
The collective organising the Montreal Anarchist Book Fair, which has, for over a decade, brought thousands of anarchists and people curious about anarchy together, cannot stand idly by in front of such political targeting. Not because the book fair or its collective have been specifically targeted, but because this political profiling strongly demonstrates the repressive nature of the State and its police.
When the police shows up to the Centre d’éducation populaire de le Petite Bourgogne et St-Henri (CEDA), the space where we’ve held the book fair for almost ten years, we are involved, we are concerned. When the police meets with the administration and asks questions about certain anarchists, they are not looking for information, but to intimidate.
With a project like GAMMA (Guet des activités et des mouvements marginaux et anarchistes), the police is only able to fabricate a caricatured portrait of an anarchist. As long as the police is the police, that’s all the portrait will ever be, a caricature.
A quick glance to the past will remind us that the Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), then called the North-West Mounted Police, was first created to put down Canada’s aboriginal resistance and impose ‘negotiations’ of treaties. Inspired by the Royal Irish Constabulary, the British royal police in Ireland, the RCMP’s ancestor proved to be, from it’s creation, a political police.
Let us remember the portraits of communist and anarchist leaders from the 1920 and 30s. ‘Foreign agitators’ and ‘Reds’ working in the pocket of the USSR. An unemployed person fighting back: a bolshevist. A suffragette feminist: a hysterical woman. A homosexual: a deviant. Resisting, fighting aboriginals: rebels. Anarchists: bombers. Indeed, ‘’we only see them when we’re afraid of them’’.
Yet, what the wide variety of organisations and individuals present at the book fair show us is the caricature that the police have fabricated only corresponds to a partial reality. It is rather ironic to think that this ‘anti-anarchist’ squad first targeted communist Maoists who did well to identify themselves as anarchists. GAMMA targets those who counter-attack, those who resist. Maoists and the ASSÉ yesterday, anarchists tomorrow.
For the SPVM, the ‘anarchist’ is the young, angry, masked and violent. Yes, these young folks clamor for anarchism. And the ‘old’ were once the young. Yes, we are angry. Violent? It depends on one’s definition of violence. Masked? Yes, amongst us, certain do not hesitate to mask there face, to let there anger explode up against surrounding injustices: ecological catastrophes, private propriety, the state and its police.
But in our day to day lives, nobody walks around with a there face covered. We’re all too busy with popular education, learning, loving, sharing, and organising. It’s exactly what the SPVM does not see, too blinded by there own search for suspects.
Come take a look at the crowd that participates in the Anarchist book fair and festival. You can see families, the young and the not-so-young, francophones, anglophones, ecologists chatting with punks, collectives for Palestine’s liberation and other groups active amongst prisoners, syndicalists learning permaculture, anti-racist activists sharing there passion for revolutionary reggae… the ‘anarchists’ and the ‘marginals’ are all of these. All of this and so much more.
What GAMMA, the police who have preceded it, and the ones that will follow it wish is to deny this diversity, is to intimidate hundreds of curious folk who, without calling themselves anarchists, enjoy reading radical ideas. What GAMMA wishes, is to trap us inside of an image that does not correspond to us.
The phenomenon might not be new, but we must face it. Because what the police want is to weaken our movement. And to do that, nothing is more effective than a good division. When the syndicalists denounce the radical ecologists, when the students are wary of punks and when the anarchists start making the distinctions between the ‘nice’ and the ‘violent’, the police have won. They will have divided and neutralised us. They will have us surrounded.
-The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair Collective