The Concordia Student Union officially denounced the municipal bylaw P-6 that requires an itinerary before protests start and the use of corralling as a tactic to swiftly end demonstrations by the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal.
During a special council meeting last week, Councillor Benjamin Prunty presented a two-page motion that took an official stand against bylaw P-6 calling into question the change in strategy by the SPVM since the anti-police brutality demonstration on March 15 where more than 200 arrests took place.
The motion specifically condemns kettling, a tactic where police officers corral protesters to a limited area and control access to the location. The tactic is controversial since it boxes individuals in and only leaves them with a single exit usually determined by police. Demonstrations to rally against the provincial government’s indexation of tuition fees over the last two weeks resulted in hundreds of individuals being contained for hours — including local journalists.
It also denounces bylaw P-6 for being “passed by a municipal council under intense suspicions of widespread corruption.”
Prunty’s motion calls for an independent office to conduct a public inquiry into kettling and tactics used by the SPVM and for the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec to facilitate legal action in the form of a challenge to the Charter or class action lawsuit. Furthermore, the motion asks that the undergraduate student body at Concordia University be able to participate in peaceful demonstrations to condemn bylaw P-6 and kettling accompanied by a CSU banner supporting the motion. It
The motion was adopted by the CSU despite some issues over the wording of the letter when Councillor Jordan Lindsay emphasized that the motion could benefit a restructuring in tone in order to have the “CSU’s voice.” Conversely, Councillor Chad Walcott argued that the CSU should take a “strong stance in favour of freedom of expression.”
“I believe that as a student union it is our responsibility to take a firm stance on issues that affect our members,” said Walcott.
Walcott emphasizes that it’s the CSU’s responsibility to bring such issues to light and demand that they be examined.
“What we are seeing from the police under P-6 goes beyond what is called for in terms of limiting one’s rights,” said Walcott. “What we are seeing instead is a gradual infringement on our right to assembly, free speech and the right to peaceful protest.”
However, certain councillors and executives promised to oversee the structure of the motion the following day. The revamped motion has not been sent to the public yet.