Thursday, March 20, 2008
It was pretty shocking to hear today that some of my students -- really good kids who will someday be very important journalists -- had been stomped and arrested by the Montreal police while covering a recent demonstration against (wait for it) police brutality.
One student, a top student and former editor of the Concordia paper The Link, was hit several times and tossed into a paddy wagon. He was left there for a long time while some of his fellow Link reporters tried to find out what the police had done with him. Police claimed to have no idea where he was, but some of the students eventually found him and managed to get him released.
Last Saturday's demonstration didn't get much press coverage in Montreal and none outside the city, even though 47 people were arrested by Montreal's riot police. The Link's front-page photo of police dragging off a demonstrator is a shoe-in during next year's award season.
It seems the most the protesters did was spray paint dollar signs on a MacDonald's and possibly toss some bottles. One street person told the Link the demonstrators and the cops were getting some of the frustrations out of their system.
But the police have no place taking their frustrations out on protesters, even if some of them are making mischief. The police are supposed to be professional. They're supposed to keep order, not brawl in the streets.
My students have told me some rather frightening stories about Montreal cops harassing young people, especially non-white and non-Francophone kids. Quebec cops have always had a pretty dubious reputation. They seem to want to stick to the stereotype.