On April 2, 2015 — at the 75k-strong anti-austerity demonstration in Montréal, I found a discarded protest sign that lay in the mud in Square Victoria. The cardboard protest sign is hand-painted in three colours. It has an armband taped to its back side that I slid around my forearm to reveal is as a shield. I have collected many posters since the beginning of the Printemps 2015 anti-austerity campaign, but this was the first protest artefact added to the archive.
According to an individual I met during the demo, the “PolicePolitique” shield belonged to a girl from Université de Sherbrooke who came to the Montréal demo on bus #4. I ask her : Why did you abandon the protest sign at the beginning of a demonstration after its meticulous fabrication? Did you drop it, loose it or discard it deliberately?
Regardless of the answer, I decided to honour the shield’s initial purpose and carry it in the demo. I have added it to the archive and will now use and reuse it for my second project of artefact activation/remediation. The first focused on reusing the banner “Ici comme ailleurs on a raison de se révolter“, already collected within the Artéfacts Archive, and re-activating it by carrying in demonstrations. What better role could an oppositional artefact have than to be back on the streets?
The PolicePolitique protest shield was carried in subsequent demonstrations during the #Printemsp2015 anti-austerity movement. But I am taking the concept a bit further. Police brutality and protest repression has become commonplace in Montréal. The gratuitous violence grows in intensity and is encouraged by the current government and most corporate media editorialists in their collaborative effort to denigrate the oppositional movement against austerity. The police are political. Political profiling against oppositional movements in Québec became obvious in 2012. As a result, it seems entirely appropriate to continue carry the shield during protests to highlight this fact.
The goal is to (re)mediate the shield into a photograph of the shield alongside police repression of demonstrations. The task was to encourage people to take photos of the #PolicePolitique shield being carried with the police in the background and to share the photograph online through social media using the #PolicePolitique & #manifencours. All the photographs found are added to this page as part of this project to highlight the role police have in repression of the democratic practice of protest.
When someone takes a photo of me carrying the shield within a demonstration, I assume that the message expressed by the shield (and the Montréal Police Fraternity tuque) has captured their imagination. The photo’s redistributing may capture the imagination of others who may denounce the practice. It is a small-scale pressure tactic, a political statement, an expression of opposition. It is also an affirmation of an oppositional cultural heritage.
If you have seen or taken a photo of the #PolicePolitique shield within a demo, please email the photo and share it within your networks.
Manifestation anticapitaliste du 1er / Anticapitalist May 1st demo – Montréal – 1 mai/May 2016
A video by Submedia.tv. (I pass with shield at 00:25-00:27).
Manifestation du 1er mai contre l’austérité, etc. / May 1st demo against austerity, etc. – Montréal – 1 mai/May 2015
Marche Action Climat / Climate Action March – Québec City – 11 avril/April, 2015
Dans le journal Le Soleil du 12 avril 2015:
Venu de Montréal, David ne voulait pas manquer l’occasion d’exprimer son désaccord envers les oléoducs, peu avant la rencontre des premiers ministres provinciaux. Les oléoducs «vont passer par Québec, alors la lutte est rendue ici». «Je ne pouvais pas manquer ce genre d’événement.» Habitué des manifestations, David a profité de la marche pour recycler sa pancarte «Police politique», trouvée à Montréal lors d’une manifestation. «Je suis un archiviste d’artefacts protestataires. J’ai voulu lui donner vie, car c’est très d’actualité», dit le militant, qui évoque les nombreuses arrestations lors des manifestations du printemps. S’il participait à la marche, David s’est montré critique envers l’événement. «Aujourd’hui, ce n’est pas une manifestation, c’est une marche; tous les éléments ont été décidés avec la police», exprime-t-il. «Ce n’est pas de la contestation pure.»
Manifestation contre l’austérité / Anti-austerity demonstration – Montréal – 2 avril/April, 2015
Une section de la vidéo de MADOC. Images Mario Jean.