Protesters and tenants of the condominium at 7080 Hutchison St. rallied together to demand the release of the Nazi flag-waver’s identity who was spotted after this year’s May Day protest. The rally occurred on May 5 and was comprised of about 100 protesters, armed with banners and posters and showing no mercy to the police officers guarding the neighborhood. They marched from Parc metro station to their destination with unwavering determination.
May 1, known as May Day, marked a day dedicated to a series of annual protests in support of workers’ rights. This year, montrealers marched with “same class, same battle” posters and “for the right to work in security for all and those without paperwork” signs.
According to the Montreal Gazette, the man waved a red flag bearing a swastika after the demonstration. Many photos were circulated on social media, including a community Facebook page called Parc-Ex Action Squad, which initiated an online debate about whether the board of directors of the condominium should disclose the identity of the man.
Soon after the incident, Valérie Guilmain, who sits on the condo’s board of directors, expressed to media the directors’ distress despite the fact that they cannot disclose the man’s identity. Guilmain said, “as a result of the sad and deplorable hateful incident of which our building was the theatre, we reiterate our absolute disapproval of this gesture. We condemn it unreservedly.”
Nonetheless, anti-racist activist Jaggi Singh, who is part of the Quebec Public Interest Research Group at Concordia, co-organized the demonstration and condemned the board of directors. “The administration of the condominium know exactly the identity of this person, but they won’t reveal it because they are getting intimidated by the police who are saying there is an investigation going on,” Singh said. “I find the fact that they trust the police over the community to be very insulting.”
“This manifestation is to remember and give the message that there is no place for such a message in Park Extension and Montreal,” said Samiha Hossain, the spokesperson and co-organizer of the event alongside Singh, who claimed the man also performed the Nazi salute. “It completely shocked me. I couldn’t believe it. It is honestly the first time I see a message of this nature in Park Extension,” she told The Concordian. “We need to remember that Park Extension is the neighborhood that is the most multicultural in terms of cultures, nations and religions.”
Hossain has been living in Park Extension for over 22 years. “We want to know the identity of the person, because we want to make sure that we create a feeling of security. We are hoping that once the police investigation has concluded, we will get to know the identity,” she said.
Hossain said she believes there is a link between the May Day incident and neo-Nazi racist “Zeiger,” whose identity was announced last week. “We do not have concrete proof that they are connected,” said Hossain. However, she added that because of the timing, it may not be coincidental. According to the Montreal Gazette, “Zeiger” is the pseudonym of a controversial writer for The Daily Stormer, a far right-wing news website. His identity has since been revealed as Rosemont-La-Petite-Patrie resident Gabriel Sohier Chaput.
Aaron Lakoff, a protester from Solidarity Across Borders and a Concordia student in the media studies master’s program, said he is certain there is a connection. “By the simple fact that [the man waving the flag] is a Nazi—yes,” Lakoff said, adding that it is difficult to know exactly how the two individuals are related.
According to Lakoff, many far-right individuals such as neo-Nazis use the dark web to recruit members, which motivates them to perform unlawful gestures. Lakoff initiated one of the main chants of the march: “Make racists afraid again.” As a Jewish man, Lakoff said he was appalled by the sight of the flag that day.
Hossain told The Concordian that “as long as [neo-Nazis] exist, we will need to continue to be bigger, stronger and be more vocal to stop hate speech and move for a better future.”
Photos by Mackenzie Lad