Protesters disperse with the remains of a burning paper-mâché Trump left in front of the U.S. consulate
As Donald Trump was sworn into office on Friday, repeating his promise to “Make America Great Again” during his inaugural speech, protesters in Montreal were mobilizing to express their outrage, proclaiming “America Was Never Great.”
Hundreds gathered at the corner of Jeanne-Mance and de Maisonneuve for the Resist Trump and the Far-Right rally, where organizer Eamon Toohey delivered an opening speech shortly after 11 a.m.
“The days of polite protest, of waiting for the next Jon Stewart sketch to limply chastise an emboldened enemy—those days are far gone,” he said.
“To those clamoring for love, [saying] that love trumps hate—resistance is the greatest act of love that you can muster. We need to continue to resist, to take disruptive, direct action until we’ve resigned fascism to the annals of history.”
The march was organized by the Quebec Public Interest Research Group at Concordia (QPIRG Concordia), a left-wing organization with a nearly 40-year history of supporting social and environmental causes. According to QPIRG Concordia’s website, it has previously coordinated demonstrations against apartheid, climate change and the nuclear arms race.
This protest was organized in solidarity with similar, much larger protests in Washington D.C. and throughout the United States, and was followed by another demonstration later that evening.
Protest signs read, “No legitimacy for fascists” and “Trump is evil, Trump is nuts. People hate his fucking guts.” The latter was designed by Kerry McElroy.
“My biggest concern is that he’s going to bring down the country and bring down the institutions and bring about civil war,” she said. “I think he’s an authoritarian and I think he’s a fascist and I think he’ll take whatever power he can.”
One protester, Jonathan Ouzariman, brought a paper-mâché effigy of the new president. When asked if he would burn it, he replied, “Absolutely.”
Protesters marched east on de Maisonneuve, and then back west on René Levesque. Order was kept, but the threat of violence was ever-present. Police circled the crowd on bikes. Others formed a blockade in front of the U.S. Consulate as protesters marched by. Shopkeepers watched warily as the crowd poured into the Eaton Centre, their final destination. A small marching band, instruments adorned with political slogans, accompanied them.
“The demo has two aims,” said organizer Nicole Leblanc. “One: A show of solidarity with folks in the United States who will be directly affected by Trump’s policies. Two: To call attention to the fact that what Trump represents is a larger, far-right ideology that advocates a set of racist, islamophobic, sexist, transphobic and anti-immigrant policies that absolutely must be opposed and resisted everywhere it occurs.”
When asked if racists should be afraid to express their opinions, Toohey replied, “Honestly? Yes.”
“We want racists and right-wing extremists to fear and to expect repercussions and backlash if and when they openly express such ideas,” said Leblanc.
By 1 p.m., the crowd had dispersed completely. All that lay in their wake was a smoldering figure dumped in front of the U.S. Consulate—the charred paper-mâché effigy of the American president.