My night at the manif

On Oct. 22, the manif, as it were, was en cours. Lucas Wisenthal reported back from the final event of the day.

Photo by Lucas Wisenthal

It was Oct. 22, and the manif, as it were, was en cours. Throughout the day, students and pissed-off people of all stripes gathered at sites around the city to decry some agendas — say, that of the Quebec Oil and Gas Association — and champion others, like the right to protest.

The largest protest took place at Square Victoria (see Owain Harris’s photographs below), but the day was meant to culminate in front of the Police Brotherhood in the Plateau, with a collective push to drop the charges brought against students during last spring’s protests. So at about 7 p.m., that’s where I found myself. But that event, as the venerable Book of Faces would soon tell me, was cancelled at the last minute. Instead, a vigil for victims of police brutality — which was also on the day’s docket, overlapping in time and place with the student event — continued into the evening.

About 100 people were on hand. I struck up conversation with Léandre St-Laurent, a film student at CÉGEP de Saint-Laurent. Léandre, who sported a red square on his jacket, had participated in the student protests last spring. He had come out to denounce police brutality, an issue that those same protests had brought to his attention.

But these demos are a far cry from those of six months ago. “You cannot compare it,” he said. “Because we were on strike, we had a collective weight about us. Now, though, people have returned to their daily lives.

“When I wasn’t at school, [during the] spring, I had all my time to do it. I have a more restrictive schedule [now].”

Following a few impassioned speeches slamming the police for the Fredy Villanueva shooting, among other violent incidents, the protest closed with rapper Warrior Minded performing two anti-police brutality tracks. I wondered what the cops standing behind him thought.

With that, the vigil turned into a march, and the group proceeded down St-Denis, chanting “Fuck the police” into the night. ■

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