“Our Job is Repression…the Police is a Paramilitary Organization”


«Comprenons-nous, nous ne sommes pas pour l’établissement d’un État policier, nous savons qu’il faut travailler avec la population et créer des liens. Mais il y a des groupes pour ça. Notre boulot, à la police, c’est la répression. Nous n’avons pas besoin d’un agent sociocommunautaire comme directeur, mais d’un général. Après tout, la police est un organisme paramilitaire, ne l’oublions pas.» — Yves Francoeur, Président de la Fraternité de Policiers.

“You must understand us, we are not for the establishment of a police State, we know we must work with the population and create links. But there are groups doing this. Our job, as police officers, is repression. We do not need a social worker as a director, we need a general. After all, the police is a paramilitary organization, let’s not forget it.” — The President of the Police Fraternity of Quebec, Yves Francoeur.

It’s very unfortunate that I could not “attend,” seeing how Montreal has a healthy riot scene. This past Sunday, 15 March, 2009, saw a large clash between protesters against police brutality, and the police who came out to demonstrate police brutality. For more, from a mainstream and rather conservative perspective, see:

The right message, well stated, merits repetition. (A woman stands near police massed in an alley near the Mont Royal metro station Sunday, March 15, 2009 in Montreal during the annual march against police brutality. John Kenney)
The right message, well stated, merits repetition. (A woman stands near police massed in an alley near the Mont Royal metro station Sunday, March 15, 2009 in Montreal during the annual march against police brutality. John Kenney)

From The Gazette’s Photo Gallery:

Protesters head south on St. Denis street Sunday, March 15, 2009 in Montreal during the annual march against police brutality. John Kenney.
Protesters head south on St. Denis street Sunday, March 15, 2009 in Montreal during the annual march against police brutality. John Kenney.

Videos

(I love this one: Benjamin Franklin uses the actual events as a backdrop for some bilingual rapping — staging reality)

Montreal Protest Against Police Brutality, 15 March 2009, part 1 of 3


Montreal Protest Against Police Brutality, 15 March 2009, part 2 of 3


Montreal Protest Against Police Brutality, 15 March 2009, part 3 of 3


(Thanks to Homeless Nation, Anarkhia, Collectif opposé à la brutalité policière, canoe.ca)

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15 thoughts on ““Our Job is Repression…the Police is a Paramilitary Organization”

  1. A chilling quote, isn’t it? A paramilitary campaign would seem to fit the sort of interpretations that the more radical interpreters and activists have forwarded with regard to police response to public protests such as this one (which saw the police choreograph the initial stages of confrontation, from my own view near the front of the peaceful march that arrived at Sherbrooke and St. Denis), dramatic shooting incidents and the everyday ‘casual’ brutality exercised against the street punks and other ‘undesirables’ who may well in some cases have very decent reasons to throw a rock at an officer – an action especially easy to justify when one is so done-up in riot gear as to be practically invulnerable.

    One can see why the ‘flics’ (cops) are ticked to be tagged as ‘assasins’, but surely the strong solidarity police unions tend to show with individuals such as the killers of Freddy Villanueva, Mohamed Anas Bennis, and Anthony Griffin are a form of reinforcing social behaviour that keeps the use of deadly force in a higher level of regard than it should reasonably be. Killing someone (like Villanueva, shot with two other unarmed youth) who presents a possible threat on a hand-to-hand basis seems a might excessive. And I do think that the day-to-day strong-arming of many on our streets – who hardly qualify as ‘enemy combatants’ or (para)military rivals to Francoeur’s forces is equally pressing, if often showed up by high-profile police killings.

    As for the discourses of ‘public order’ and control, it is worth considering that the no-masks bylaw proposed would facilitate the kind of databanking of political protesters (even the most peripheral) recently revealed in the UK by the Guardian:

    Thanks for posting the videos, and mining the self-undermining words (however uneasy they may make thoughtful people) of the head of the FPQ. Given that the ‘mainstream’ has given the police and Mayor most of the limelight, I think it is worth glancing at the COBP’s statement on the day as well.

    (That’s the Collectif Oppose au Brutalite Policiere, who handled much of the organizing and do day-to-day ‘copwatch’ and legal assistance work…the statement is in French):

  2. Hello Mike!

    Thanks for the links, comments, and notes, much appreciated.

    I just wanted to post a little note here of how I found that quote. The day after the protest I was in the Metro and found that a series of stickers had been posted on top of the advertisements. Inside a very packed train I noticed everyone around me was engrossed with reading one particular ad on the wall, and specifically what turned out to be a sticker with this quote on it. They could not take their eyes off it. I had to find out who said it and a day or two later I found the quote reproduced on several websites, and now here.

    There are some officials who have an amazing ability for absolute candor, making observations that they think are straightforward and beyond question, while at the same time (and most likely unintentionally) fully echoing some of the worst that some people think of their actions and policies. I notice this happens perhaps more frequently in Canada than anywhere else I have been, except perhaps Australia, and my very tentative guess is that: (a) officialdom in Canada has not been very well trained in the culture of PR; or, (b) speakers such as Francoeur see no problem at all with their positions, and believe that their audience shares the exact same sentiments, beliefs, predispositions, etc., so that one can speak plainly even if about brutality, and expect agreement. Some of the older Prime Ministers and Defense Ministers in Israel, like Ben Gurion and Moshe Dayan, also seemed to have this incredible knack for stating the truth of their position, in all its nastiness, plainly and seemingly without emotion.

    So, still as a tentative guess, my suggestion is that maybe at times when dominant sectors of a society believe that their hegemony is not in question, they can afford to speak certain truths, truths that can later be used to critique their hegemony, and they do not see their positions as being in any way controversial. I think Canadian elites, older Israeli leaders, and some Apartheid-era South African Prime Ministers, fit this framework (Nazis being an extreme case).

    Now note the content of federal government press conferences in the U.S. — how much care is taken with massaging the message, with pruning justifications, with creating new and less harsh vocabularies, maximum PR, or simply avoiding the press and making public comment if it could prove too controversial, and that is even in the face of a mainstream media that is more pliant than not. To me that suggests elites who are smarter and more aware that their hegemony is very much in question. They realize there is a fire, and their words could fuel it. Francoeur above is so self-assured, that he doesn’t seem to think there is any fire, or not one that can last long enough as soon as he stamps his boot on it. It makes him more dangerous, but also weaker.

    Please feel free to decontaminate this material!

  3. Well Max ,the very first glance of today’s page inspired in me A frighteningly quick and appallingly singular intuition , coupled with A word so hated , A tradition not exclusive , yet one that became the poster child for the worst horror of this principle blindly … I waited and you didn’t disappoint me … and the word is … you guessed it , NAZI .
    The true horror is that this type of group mentality is being demonstrated by the very device those victims indirectly have imposed upon themselves as A means of defending against this singular disregard for their ( the victims / citizens ) rights of protection by their elected representatives . This convoluted decent has been repeated A million times over the course of our evolution as A species , the end result only determined by the sheer or insignificant numbers involved .
    But we’re talking about the third largest city in this country in terms of impact . Here , now 2009 , CANADA . The very country that was the true scourge of the Nazi’s hated Ideology finds its doctrines subtley at work and growing stronger , right here in one of our own front yards .
    To contemplate the similarities makes me think of Neville Chamberlain , and words that still haunt to this day .
    For my fellow citizens in my neighbouring province you have my deepest sympathies , and know my eyes are open and watching . If the time comes , Canada the aware will come out and defend you .

  4. This , Max is why I so love to get away from it all … suddenly , it almost seems irresponsible …

  5. “just head straight to the police station and preemptively turn yourselves in.”

    That would be an interesting act of civil disobedience…

  6. Tali, how about carrying out a citizen’s arrest against the police? Just kidding of course. While reviewing some of the videos above, I did feel that some of the protesters were opportunists who were simply out to have a good time and harass even people who were totally uninvolved, passers by, which I think was wrong.

  7. lol… If the police were on the right, in the first place, they’d march right into the cells with the rest of the population.

    There’s always going to be some bad apples. I feel that solidarity movements have an educational problem, because they inherently rely on the individual. People want to do good, but let their anger management deficiency kill their cause. I just finished watching a fantastic motivational speech by Naomi Klein ( http://www.zmag.org/zvideo/3075 ), on this issue exactly (at about 12:30). It really sharpened the importance of guidance from veteran activists to us youngens, first confronting our “dignified rage”, as she so eloquently calls it.

  8. The “March Against the Pentagon” today, which wove it’s way from DC into Northern Virginia, had only one moment of tense feelings. It was in Crystal City, Virginia, about 1.5 miles past the Pentagon (the march only went past the Pentagon, 500 meters and a highway away), near what was apparently an office building, some floor(s?) of which are rented by a defense contractor? Northrup-Grumman perhaps? Maybe Electric Boat Corporation? (Which makes US submarines) This was about 2 hours ago.

    Anyway, ANSWER’s plan, or somebody’s plan, was to lay a bunch of flag draped mini-coffins at the door of this contractor’s office park building. (The flags were Palestinian) Maybe 20 of them, but that’s a guesstimate. Then, as that was happening, the 20-25 Anachists (mostly 18-22 I’d guess) started pressing in on the cops. The ANSWER folks interposed themselves, and prevented anything from escalating, and the march then continued it’s last 400 yards.

    I’d earlier asked the Anarchists, “Who is in charge?” And they all pointed to the same dude. I asked him who was in charge, and he indicated an organizational structure. In all cases they completely missed the comedy of the idea of institutionally organized anarchists.

    Ahh well.

    Sort of like the Marxists, who directed people to their .com site.

    Bob Bateman

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