On Friday, Nov. 22, Jaggi Singh, a member of several associations at Concordia University, started the process of launching a constitutional challenge to Montreal’s P-6 bylaw which prevents protesters from demonstrating without providing the city with an itinerary prior to the rally.
Thousands of protesters have been arrested and fined under the P-6 bylaw. Since the Maple Spring in May 2012, hundreds more have been detained and fined under new P-6 provisions raising first-time fines to more $600. It also penalizes a refusal to share demonstration routes, and wearing a mask over one’s face.
Singh characterized it as, “a vague law that is applied arbitrarily.” He described a common police tactic known as “kettling,” in which protesters are herded together by police, arrested and fined. Many demonstrators besides Singh have been ticketed and jailed under this law, using this technique.
Singh was fined under the P-6 bylaw on June 9, 2012, in downtown Montreal during the Grand Prix. Though he was not participating in a demonstration, Singh was arrested, jailed, and fined $634.
After a 17-month delay, Singh went to court last Wednesday in front of Judge Sophie Beauchemin at Montreal’s municipal court. According to a Singh’s press release, he succeeded in securing a second pro-forma, to begin the process of contesting the P-6 bylaw.
Besides, QPIRG, (Quebec Public Interest Research Group), Singh is a member of No One is Illegal, Solidarity Across Borders and Convergence des luttes anticapitalistes (CLAC). Among these groups, more than 84 others joined in signing a community declaration stating, “We will not submit to municipal bylaw P-6.” Singh believes P-6 will be defeated in the streets, not the courts, by groups not posting their itinerary ahead of demonstrations making “P-6 unworkable” for the city.
“It’s not in the courts or at city hall that P-6 will be defeated, but in the streets, as community groups organizing demonstrations continue to openly defy the P-6 bylaw, and make it inapplicable by street-level resistance,” stated Singh.
Furthermore, Singh claims that police profile and target certain groups for arrest. For example, while many demonstrations were not ticketed (Harper Mutiny, Status For All, A qui la ville) last spring, two CLAC-organized protests were allegedly targeted for mass arrests and tickets on April 5 and May 1, 2013.
Along with 400 others, Singh was also charged under the P-6 bylaw on May 1, and will also be contesting that ticket on constitutional grounds.
A press release is available on his website with links to the sections of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms allegedly being violated. He can be followed or reached through QPIRG, Facebook and Twitter.