Mask ban protesters take to the streets

hdvsign1If you thought that the City of Montreal postponing the vote on its controversial anti-mask bylaw would silence the amendment’s opponents, you’d only have to look to the streets Monday night to know how wrong you were.

Protesters clad in masks met at Berri Square and after a speech took to the streets, literally. This Reclaim the Streets action known as Manifesuprise and organized by Le gros bon sens blocked traffic as it made its way down the snowy streets of south central Montreal, through Chinatown and into Old Montreal.

The marchers chanted out questions about just who masks, hoods and the streets themselves belonged to, then answered those questions by saying in unison that they belonged “to us.”


Police cars finally caught up with the march as it headed down St-Laurent Boulevard and ended up blocking traffic themselves as the group finally stopped in front of City Hall where a truck was waiting.  Once the group arrived, the truck opened to reveal a sound system, DJ console and two sofas which were quickly brought to the street.  As music pumped out of the speakers people began to dance (video coming soon)


Inside a city council meeting was in full swing.  This is where the ban on all types of masks at public demonstrations was supposed to be voted into law.  With mounting opposition, the Tremblay administration had pulled the controversial measure from the agenda three days prior, claiming it had to be re-evaluated.

The doors of City Hall were locked, most likely due to what happened when protestors tried to enter and speak as part of the Bal Masqué during the previous council meeting.  Members of the Gros bon sens took to the steps instead and addressed the crowd:

While the protest had clearly turned festive, the celebration was both bold in the way it reclaimed public space and cautious in how it accepted the victory of the bylaw vote being postponed.  The city hadn’t buried the law but rather sent it to be discussed and re-written. If they successfully greenwash the language so it doesn’t sound as glaringly big brother and ridiculous, the amendment might pass without the broad public disgust that the earlier version wrought. Despite that, the core problem with the law, the fact that it is a clear violation of our charter right to free expression as well as our right to anonymity, would still be there. This inspired the protest/party’s theatrical portion (courtesy of OTL/infringement) where a “riot cop” with a helmet and shield announced to the crowd that it was good they were celebrating because it wasn’t the law that was being buried that evening, but their rights instead:

After the performance the party continued and before everyone left, the Gros bon sens issued a warning and an invitation that this fight wasn’t over and as long as the city keeps the proposition on the table, it is only just beginning.

Despite the presence of an RDI camera, media coverage on this event has been minimal.  It seems like the media have taken the city’s lead and buried the story, which is why now more than ever it is important to keep the protest alive and try and get the mask ban buried for good.

One Response to “Mask ban protesters take to the streets”

  1. OTL Blog » Blog Archive » Police brutalize Anti-Police Brutality Demo - again! Says:

    […] crowd was thick with arts-activists and many people wore masks of all varieties, a reminder of our victory against the attempted mask-ban. One man dressed up as a Taser to raise awareness about the deadly police weapons. Taser […]

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