Montréal Contre-information
Montréal Contre-information
Montréal Contre-information

Report-back on the June 6th Riot

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Jun 162024
 

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

June 6, 2024 will live long in our memories.

What happened that day was more than impressive. A riot emerged spontaneously on the McGill campus in response to police violence and a convergence of forces from the student intifada.

Since the media coverage seems to gloss over the strength of youth resistance that day, it seems important to take a look back at the day’s events.

First of all, a demonstration had already been called by the forces of the Université Populaire Al-Aqsa (UQAM), which ended its occupation earlier in the day. Parallel to this, an occupation of the Mcgill administration building was organized by students from the university. It was around this occupation that the riot was organized.

Following a call for support from McGill groups, a hundred or more activists converged on McGill to support the students barricaded inside the building.

The police on the ground acted with excessive aggression in the face of the fairly strong passivity of those present. Physically forcing the students who were blocking the secondary doors towards the main gathering in front of the front door. Hundreds of police officers were then mobilized to secure the area around the building and allow the police officers inside to intervene and arrest the 13 students trapped inside.

The aggressiveness of the police and their ridiculous effort to arrest a handful of students quickly heated things up. The students on the ground began to prepare for a police dispersal operation. While a small line held the west of the area, the forces converged to the east to hold a line against the massing riot police. Aided by more experienced activists, the students then began to stand in collective defense formations. Shortly afterwards, the police attempted a first charge into the lines. Surprisingly, despite pepper spray, gas, shields and truncheons, the lines held firm. While the bulk of the force seemed to be made up of activists new to street confrontations, the lines withstood a police charge and managed to push back the riot line. Perhaps the escalation of violence that the police have been building up since April 15 has succeeded in completing the movement’s efforts at self-pacification. Whatever prompted the people gathered there to stand firm, their actions were more than commendable.

Some of those present then retreated in the face of the irritants, but many of them returned to reinforce the lines. Lines that held off a second charge (notably using fencing, ramps and other obstacles) before a third charge finally broke through the line of students. The ego-stricken police then proceeded to brutalize as many activists as they could. Instead of demobilizing the group, this violence reinforced the militant rage. They gathered in the middle of the campus.

While these clashes were taking place, UPA forces arrived in support. Taking up positions on the other side of the police force, they threatened to entangle the police with the demonstration in support of the south. The students tried to resist, but were eventually forced to retreat to the south entrance of the campus.

The forces of both groups then regrouped on the edge of Sherbrooke and, under the call of the radical forces within the demonstration, took to the streets.

Motivated to go and get their arrested comrades, enraged by the violence they had suffered and motivated by the strength of their resistance, the students then engaged in a harassment of the police line laid out around the administration building. Although the forces of resistance failed to de-arrest the comrades, they forced the police to withdraw to their position.

As night fell and tension began to mount again, the students abandoned the campus and took to the surrounding streets. The forces of the student intifada learned the language of the riot, bank windows were smashed, police officers were fired upon with pyrotechnics and rocks rained on them, and every available object to form barricades was used to block access to police vehicles as the students took control of the streets for a few hours.

We must learn from this day and ensure that the movement never goes backwards. The intifada must realize its full potential.

A first lesson is to abandon the black bloc in this kind of demonstration. By dispersing into the crowd, experienced revolutionaries were able to blend in and pass on to the people there the practices of resistance to the police. Let’s adopt the movement’s uniform: the kefffiyeh bloc is in with the times.

A second lesson is to address the crowd clearly in demonstrations, ignoring peace police of all kinds. While self-proclaimed leaders, seemingly detached from student groups, were trying to disperse and pacify the crowd, our more experienced comrades and students were out in the field explaining to people how to resist and encouraging them to hold their ground against the cops. Less experienced militants expect those who know how to resist to guide them in action. We can’t continue to act as a force separate from the rest of the demonstration, we need to see in the faces present in the demonstration as many comrades. We must counter the leadership of opportunists, pacifists and other saboteurs.

The final lesson is to seize the opportunity to escalate when it presents itself. When the police make mistakes, when they brutalize and reveal their face, revolutionaries must be among those left to hold the lines and encourage young people to follow us. We also need to put the police on the defensive, attacking them and forcing them to defend specific targets, so as to have free rein in the streets.

Close the Office in Tel-Aviv

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Jun 082024
 

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

The CAQ, complicit in a genocide!

The ongoing massacre in Palestine is a crime against humanity.

40,000 people have been brutally murdered and more than 2 million have been displaced.

Meanwhile, the CAQ and its minister Martine Biron will open an office for Quebec in Tel Aviv…!

Cooperating with an apartheid regime seems urgent for the Legault government, but not for a large part of the population.

The CAQ has blood on its hands! We therefore added some color to the doors of the Ministry of International Relations.

The peoples of Quebec need not sanction the collaboration of the state with this killing. No Quebec office in Israel!

Palestine will be free!

Do not look for us, we are no one, we are everywhere. Agitate, sabotage, disrupt.

Northvolt: the poison-tree will fall

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May 152024
 

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

Let the axe
Strike at the root, the poison-tree will fall

On Sunday, May 5th, five incendiary devices were placed at the Northvolt construction site in Quebec. This action was taken to damage machinery and reduce the project’s ability to continue. Unfortunately, these devices failed to ignite. If there is one takeaway to share, when choosing materials consider how weather (high humidity or rain) might decrease the chances of a device igniting. The longer the timer, the longer the device will be exposed to environmental factors thereby decreasing the window of success.

Why choosing to attack and damage property? While Northvolt, a transnational corporation, sells themselves as the leader of the green transition, they are in fact its headstone. The electric vehicles the company plans to provide with their batteries are a false solution to the environmental destruction caused by industrial society; rather this expension of the automotive industry is only allowing the devastating impact of car infrastructure to continue. With this project, Canada’s insatiable appetite for natural resources will only grow. Lithium mining, which is essential in the process of producing Northvolt’s “green” Lithium Ion batteries, is poisoning human communities and entire ecosystems across the land. Lithium is already being extracted from unceded Indigenous territories here in “Quebec”, with many new mines planning to start operating in the next few years. With this kind of mega project, lakes, forests and wetlands will disappear under new roads and pit mines. First Nations will loose access to their traditional territories and with that loss, the ability to practice and sustain their ancestral ways of living and relating to the land. They will be surveilled and harassed by workers and security. The animals of these territories will die or will have to migrate elsewhere as their homes are destroyed.

Has anyone else noticed how quiet the land around Northvolt has become since they chopped down the trees and destroyed the wetlands? It’s eerily silent.

Capitalism and the State are in league, dumping public funds into private corporations that will only worsen the ecological crisis across the globe. This is why we must act, and more often than not, we must act beyond the laws imposed on these lands by governments. The Quebec government has already dropped regulations put in place to protect the environment and looked the other way while Northvolt violates numerous laws and codes. This is because Legault’s government (like any colonial gorvernment), is politically invested in making this project happen. However, the future remains to be written. We still have choices to make. We still can act! We must not be guided by crooked laws, but by the love and care we and others have for the collective health of all beings, the land, the water and the desire for a better world through struggle against colonial structures. Armed with our convictions, let us go into the night and choose to take the necessary risks to fight for a livable future.

Tire Fire for Palestine

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May 022024
 

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

In the night of the 29th of April anarchists started a tire fire on the train tracks in St-Henri. The action was done to disrupt train traffic momentarily in solidarity with Palestine and the anti-capitalist 1st of May. We hope this action inspires others to disrupt the economy and the flow of capital across the world.

From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!

Tenants Raging Against Airbnb

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Apr 252024
 

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

Tenant rage strikes again!

In view of tenants’ day, we decided to answer the call for the creation of collaborative art on Airbnbs, because we’re sick and tired of passing by housing that serves above all to enrich shitty fucking landlords rather than house our neighbors. We will never any longer ignore these new buildings destined only for short-term rentals, while we struggle to put a roof over our heads.

According to the platform, the building we redecorated belongs to the Airbnb host “Carli”, who claims to live in Vancouver and uses the same license number for 24 units. Still, beyond the legal issues, this situation sheds light on the persistent control of a minority over our housing and our (historically) popular neighborhoods, denying tenants their fundamental right to the city.

Fuck Airbnb, fuck landlords, and long live alternative decoration!

Fuck Highway 20

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Apr 182024
 

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

Despite opposition from the local community, concerns of environmental degradation and the utter futility of such a project, the government of Quebec insists on extending a highway from Notre-Dame-des-Neiges to Saint-Simon, which involves building a bridge over the Trois Pistoles River. Ministère des Transports du Québec’s (MTQ) blind persistence to extend the tentacles of the state and industry heavily relies on contractors like EnGlobe, a multinational engineering firm with offices in Quebec. As of this writing, geotechnical surveys are being conducted on both sides of the River. The surveys involve drilling for soil samples with heavy but vulnerable equipment kept overnight in the city of Trois Pistoles.

In the night during the 2nd week of April, anarchists sabotaged the truck transporting the surveying drill and covered it with tags letting MTQ know they were unwelcome in the area.

Anarchists in Quebec and elsewhere are invited to do the same to EnGlobe equipment and property. We must reject the highway, destroy the tendrils of capitalism and colonialism to save our forests and rivers, the true arteries that sustain us.

“Cops Off Campus” Anarchists Attack McGill

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Apr 052024
 
Image not associated with action

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

Police were invited to campus last week by McGill and pressured to charge someone by the administration just for some graffiti.

When cops are invited onto campus they police and ruin young people’s lives. Universities need to be made places of sanctuary. Denunciations and the lessons of history have not worked so far.

Yesterday, at night, we anarchists, armed with tools that anyone can find, committed our first acts of revenge, leaving our marks on the McGill administration building.

We wait for no one to act.

For liberation from all authority.

Cops off campus!

How to submit an anonymous communiqué and get away with it

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Mar 192024
 

From No Trace Project

[PRINT]          [READ]

A communiqué, also sometimes called a reportback or hit report, is a report on (typically) illegal direct actions that is shared online via counter-info sites or in print publications. Mainstream media may suppress reporting about certain tactics or the reason for choosing a target may be unclear, so submitting a communiqué is a way to share news, tactics, and political motivations directly.This guide describes how to securely submit an anonymous communiqué online. It is written for anarchists, but could be useful to other audiences like journalists or dissident groups sharing information while concealing their identities. While some communiqués are signed by a group or individual claiming responsibility, this guide focuses on anonymity.

Nothing you do on computers or the internet is ever totally safe, but you can reduce most technology-based risk by following some simple steps. There are many methods beyond those shared here, but this is a set of instructions that will hopefully help you.

Key terms

Communiqué: A report on (typically) illegal direct actions that is shared online via counter-info sites or in print publications.

Threat model: An analysis of risks that could compromise security, how likely they are to happen, and how they may be mitigated.

Tor: Short for “the onion router.” Tor is a strong anonymity system that routes your internet traffic through a series of random volunteer-run nodes across the planet. Learn more and download Tor Browser at torproject.org.

Browser: The application that allows you to access the internet. In addition to Tor Browser, other common examples include Firefox, Edge, Brave, and Chrome.

Operating system: Software programs that tell the hardware in a computer how to function. Common examples include Windows, Mac, Linux, and Tails.

Tails: An operating system that runs off a flash drive and leaves very few digital forensic traces on your computer. Tails also provides strong anonymity to your browsing traffic by routing all of it through Tor. Learn more and install at tails.net.

Stylometric analysis (stylometry): A forensics technique that analyzes word choice and style to identify authors and guess about their characteristics, for example regional dialect, education level, and unique word choice/phrases/typos.

Metadata: Data about data. For digital media, this is data contained within a photo or video file like camera type and date and time of capture. It can also refer to data about your typical patterns of internet use or date and time an account is created.

Disposable email: An anonymous email account that is temporary or single-use, typically with no login or account information. Also sometimes marketed as “spam email” sites.

Encryption: A method of hiding content in a message so it is only visible to your intended recipient.

The guide

1. Obtain a Tails stick and identify a computer to use

Make or borrow a Tails stick, a USB drive that contains files to run the amnesiac operating system Tails. Install from tails.net or ask a tech-savvy friend to help you with the process. When making your Tails stick, use Tor Browser and space it out from when you send the actual communiqué so as to not leave as strong of a correlation. Making your own Tails stick is recommended over borrowing one since that keeps your digital habits or plans more private and makes it harder to compromise multiple people’s security through one contaminated device.

The general recommendation for most people is to use a personal computer that is only for Tails, on public WiFi. The risks of using Tails on a personal computer that you also use for other tasks are fairly low, but not zero. Avoid sitting where your screen or keyboard would be visible to any surveillance cameras. (If you are fast enough at it, single stall public restrooms or restrooms with tightly closing stalls can be great for this.)

Depending on your threat model, different computer and network options could be better suited to your security needs. Using public WiFi or a public computer (for example in a library or cybercafé) could reveal information about your movements, especially if you are already under physical surveillance. Public computers themselves could be compromised at the hardware level or through intentional collaboration between their owner-operators and law enforcement, and this could be almost impossible to detect. Using a device in your home, on your home WiFi, could leave you more vulnerable to threats like hidden cameras or sophisticated Tor correlation attacks. And, of course, if the place where you store your computer is insecure, the device could be compromised by hardware tampering (like a keylogger) or malicious software (less likely to matter when using Tails). For more information on threat modeling for your specific situation and learning about ways these attacks have been used against other activists, visit the No Trace Project (notrace.how) or AnarSec (anarsec.guide).

2. Boot into Tails OS

Plug the Tails stick into the computer while it is off. Turn on the computer and hold down specific keys to access the boot menu. Refer to the included table (taken from tails.net, which also has more detailed instructions) to see which keys are relevant for your device. If you must search for this information online, use Tor Browser and try to space that search out significantly from when you intend to submit your communiqué.

On startup, you will probably see phrases like “Press [key] to access boot menu” or “Press [key] to access BIOS options”. Some computers tell you to “Press [key] to interrupt normal startup” which brings you to the boot menu. From there, select your USB drive from the list and your computer will boot into Tails.

At the Tails welcome menu, when given the option to unlock Persistent Storage (if you have it set up), do not. Anything saved to Persistent Storage will be impossible to truly delete, short of reformatting and destroying your Tails stick. If you must save data between Tails sessions, use a second encrypted USB that you can destroy afterwards. To learn how to create an encrypted USB on Tails, read “Tails for Anarchists” on anarsec.guide.

Tails comes with many helpful programs pre-installed, including Tor Browser (to access the internet), Metadata Cleaner (to remove metadata from files including photos & videos), GIMP (for photo editing), the LibreOffice Suite (open-source versions of Microsoft Word/PowerPoint/Excel), and more.

3. Open Tor Browser and find submission sites

Connect to the internet and use Tor Browser to identify counter-info sites that may be interested in your communiqué. Here are some relevant sites, sorted by region:

North America:

Europe:

Central & South America:

International:

These sites usually have a “contact” or “submissions” page which tells you how to send information you want published. This can be an email address or a form built into the website. Some offer both options (see steps 5-7).

4. Write your communiqué

(If your action has already been reported in the mainstream media, consider whether publishing a communiqué is worth the risk. Ask yourself: Does it include specific helpful information that will encourage other people to act? Will your intended audience see the already existing reporting? Does the target of the action understand why it happened, if that is important? Sometimes it may be better to submit a mainstream news article to counter-info sites, instead of writing an original communiqué.)

If you decide that writing your own submission is worthwhile, type your communiqué in a text editing program like LibreOffice Writer or Text Editor, NOT in the browser. The timing of keystrokes is very unique, especially for large blocks of text, and tracked by default on many web services. Do not save the document.

Only include information the police already know. Don’t add details like how many of you were involved, your background or identities, where you got supplies, entry or escape routes, or a long and stylistically unique personal political diatribe. These could unintentionally help an investigation against you.

To avoid stylometric analysis identifying you or grouping multiple of your submissions together, keep it short — less than 300 words if you can. If you’re writing with a friend, edit collaboratively to disguise your style. LibreOffice Writer can check for typos and punctuation errors, but will usually try to enforce formal linguistic rules. Unusual or specific dialect choices could help investigators link a communiqué to other writing. Making all letters the same case (upper or lowercase) disguises some style choices, but can be notable as a style choice itself. Some people recommend running text through Google translate or similar software to further disguise specific word choices and phrasing. This can be especially effective when translating between several languages with less online prevalence and/or different translation engines between languages. An English translation of the text “Who wrote that?” from Zündlumpen #76 deals with this topic extensively.

5. Compress then remove metadata from photos and videos

First, seriously consider if posting visual media of your clandestine action, especially videos, is worth it. Such media can give investigators a lot of information they might not have already have. Read up on open source intelligence techniques and video analysis. Details like faces, skin, tattoos, scars, height, gait, or unique clothing or accessories could lead to identification. For videos, things as simple as the hum of the electrical wires in your walls, road noise, or a single leaf can give very damaging information to the police, or any bored person with a laptop and an internet connection (yes really, any). And of course, the sound of your voice or car engine could be damning. Best practice is to use a burner camera (obtained for this purpose only, then discarded) to avoid photos or videos from different actions being linked together based on sensor noise.

If you decide submitting photos or videos is worth the risk, compress them to remove extra details by reducing the number of pixels. Lower resolution media can support your overall message without accidentally providing evidence like detailed reflections or tread marks. As a bonus, this reduces the file size which will make it easier to upload and share. For images, open them in GIMP then go to “File > Export As”. Click “Select File Type” and choose “JPEG” from the list. Use the “Quality” slider to reduce image quality, using the preview to check that it isn’t degraded too much.

Compressing videos is more complicated; look at the Tails OS documentation on sound and video for suggested programs and how to install them. There are websites that compress videos for you, but the most secure option is always something offline. If you upload a high-quality version to any website, that website could retain a copy and/or provide information to law enforcement. If you are in doubt about the potential evidence contained in your video, or are unsure how to remove potentially-identifying information, it might be best to leave it out of your submission entirely.

Once your files are compressed, the final step is to remove metadata, digital information that isn’t visible in the media but can be viewed in the file properties. Open Metadata Cleaner, click the “Add files” icon in the top left, and select your files. Click “Clean” in the bottom right to remove metadata and overwrite the originals.

6. Open the site submission form (if applicable)

As mentioned in step 3, some counter-info sites have built-in submission forms. These are often an easy and secure option to submit a communiqué, especially if you are sending only text. Each site is slightly different, so check the “submissions” or “contact” page for the exact sites where you want to send your communiqué.

Some sites accept media files through their online form, while others suggest specific filesharing sites. If files cannot be uploaded directly, one option is to upload them to file.espiv.net so you can paste a URL into a text box instead of attaching a media file directly to your submission. Note that some counter-info sites may not accept files submitted this way, as it poses a risk to site administrators. Check the relevant submission guidelines and use their suggested file sharing site(s) if available.

Paste your communiqué into the text field, enter fake non-identifying information in any other fields, upload cleaned media files or paste the filesharing URL if applicable, and submit! If that all works, skip to step 9.

If the site you want to submit to just has an email address or you experience technical difficulties using their submission form (including the communiqué not being received, which you might not notice until days later if it hasn’t been posted yet), it may be better to send your communiqué via email, as detailed in steps 7-8.

7. Create a Protonmail account, or other disposable email

If you are not using an in-site submission form, you can send an email from an account created just for this purpose. One option is Protonmail (proton.me) — many submission sites also use Protonmail, making your email end-to-end encrypted by default. Note that this encryption is not as strong as something like PGP through a trusted email provider and Protonmail as a company is not your ally (they previously collaborated with cops and lied about it). However, the contents of your message are intended to be posted publicly. The intent here is not to keep the contents of your message absolutely secret, but to minimize any metadata or personal identifying information you could accidentally send with your message. NEVER send identifying information in connection with a communiqué.

For the username, pick 2-3 random words. The website randomwordgenerator.com can help with randomness. Use a different set of random words for the password (ideally 6+ for good password security). Do not save this login information anywhere.

When using Tor, Protonmail will ask for a secondary method of verification. Enter a disposable email address created on guerrillamail.com, yopmail.com, tempr.email, or a similar disposable email site so you can receive the confirmation code.

If you do not want to use Protonmail, you could try sending your communiqué from a disposable email site. However, many of these sites only receive emails and the ones that let you send an email (tempr.email) are sometimes less reliable, especially with media attachments.

Consider trying multiple methods, or varying methods between communiqués, in order to avoid creating metadata about your submission process.

8. Create and send the submission email

Paste your communiqué into the body of the email. If sending your email between two Protonmail accounts (or another service that advertises end-to-end encryption between accounts they provide), the content of your email will be encrypted. The subject line, however, is never encrypted — for the safety of you and your recipient put something vague in that field or leave it blank.

Photos can usually be attached directly to the email. Videos or other large files can be uploaded to Proton Drive (same account as the email) or file.espiv.net and sent as a link. Note that some counter-info sites may not accept files submitted this way, as it poses a risk to site administrators. Check the relevant submission guidelines and use their suggested file sharing site(s) if available.

Read over everything one last time to make sure there are no mistakes and you attached everything you wanted. Then send the email!

9. Close out, clean up

Close any open programs, do not save any login info, and do not use the email account (if you made one) for anything else. Shut down the computer and remove your Tails stick. It can be safely used again, with no connection to the prior session, on the same computer or a different one.

If relevant, delete any photos or videos then destroy and dispose of any camera or SD card used in the action. Breaking a device into small pieces is best (the NSA recommends pieces < 2 mm), which can be achieved in a good quality household blender. Other options include using a hammer, plumbing torch, or strong acid. Avoid inhaling fumes from burning, melting, or other chemical reactions with metals or plastics.

Consider disposing of this zine if you’re using a hard copy, by destroying it or gifting to a trusted friend. It doesn’t prove you’ve done any crimes, but wouldn’t look great in court as potential corroborating evidence.

Conclusion

That’s it! This might seem like a lot of steps at first, but it’s not that hard and gets easier every time you do it.

Stay safe, be dangerous, don’t get caught.

Relevant websites:

Radio-Canada has blood on its hands: a look back at the windows destroyed on the night of March 12-13th

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Mar 152024
 

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

On the night of March 12-13th, the windows of the Radio-Canada building were destroyed by activists, in response to Radio-Canada’s choice to use its broad platform to amplify transphobic rhetoric akin to that of the far right.

The TransExpress news report aired on February 29th, 2024 is an intellectually and scientifically dishonest attack on trans people and their access to healthcare. It represents an ideological shift that legitimizes the far right’s transphobic demands, and it will fan the flames of violence against trans communities, currently increasingly targeted. Radio-Canada and its journalists have chosen to feed into a moral panic that puts the trans community, and especially trans youth, in danger.

Let’s not be fooled by the pretense of journalistic neutrality and “simple curiosity”:
Pasquale Turbide and the Radio-Canada team have chosen to give the floor to discredited pseudo-experts, like Lisa Littman and the SEGM. Their alarmist speeches have already been linked to an increase in violence in England and in the US. The reporter refuses to do any real research or understanding effort. In the report, she uses transphobic and disrespectful language, and constantly misgenders trans people. Even the passages that pretend to recognize trans realities do so within a framework of psychiatrization of transidentity, inviting more medical control from the state. We do not want the state’s control on our bodies! Everyone should be able to experiment as they see fit, even if it means making mistakes, without having to ask permission from the state’s watchdogs. We will do what we wish with our bodies, rightly or wrongly, no matter how the state and the cultural petty bourgeoisie feel about it.

We can see though Radio-Canada’s agenda and its enthusiasm to capitalize on this moral panic to increase its ratings. How else can you explain bringing Pasquale on Tout le monde en parle without an informed voice to counter her transphobic and sensationalist rhetoric?

As ever, capitalism and the state, faced with repeated crises and popular unrest, are trying to divert the attention of the working classes. Rather than talking about the collapse of public services, the housing crisis, the climate crisis, the rise of fascism, police violence, or the genocide in Palestine, they prefer to focus on an imaginary threat. Our society’s fascist drift is using the trans community as a scapegoat. The increasingly authoritarian and violent state seeks to turn us into an enemy to justify its power and violence. And they won’t stop until we stop them.

Such rhetoric has real consequences on decisions about access to healthcare for trans people, but also on the hostility and violence that trans communities, especially trans youth, experience on a daily basis. It’s not a neutral thing to repeat on prime time the rhetoric pushed by the alliance of far-right forces. How shameful to hear the arguments of the religious far right, neo-nazis, masculinists and the rest of the camp of hate on a public news channel! This misleading report will fuel hate movements responsible for the death, by suicide or murder, of trans youth, just like what happened recently in Oklahoma. When a young trans person will die as a result of transphobia, will the Enquête team take responsibility? Will they do an hour-long report on transphobic violence which, unlike access to care, kills? We see though the game they are playing. We will not let this happen.

There is no “trans problem”, but there are trans people who have a problem with you.
When choosing to participate in a hate and misinformation campaign against our communities, behind a pseudo-scientific veneer that is all the more dangerous, maybe these reporters thought that the trans community was an easy target, small in numbers, isolated, and multi-marginalized.

But understand that we are not alone : Our allies are many and our rage runs deep. We are determined and our solidarity is strong.
This will be neither the first nor the last time that queers bash back!

Baby’s First Synagogue Protest: A Review

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Mar 142024
 

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

Yeah, it’s a fucked up title, I know!

But it’s a fucked up world, isn’t it?

THE FACTS

On March 2, there was a real estate event in Thornhill, a suburban community within Greater Toronto. The event took place at a synagogue, and people were there to buy properties in Palestine. So there was a protest. One guy, who I guess we can probably call a Zionist, showed up with a nail gun, shot at people, and landed a few hits. Apart from this guy, there was representation by the Jewish Defense League (a brand strongly associated with the politics and thuggish approach of its progenitor, the rabbi Meir Kahane) in the security detail for the synagogue.

Basically the same event happened on Tuesday, March 4, at Montréal’s Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, starting in the afternoon. I came to the neighbourhood of Côte-des-Neiges (not my usual part of town) for this event; this was the first time in my life that I have ever personally gone to any demonstration targeting an event at a synagogue.

It was a day after another small crowd, on Monday, March 3, just across MacKenzie King Park from the synagogue, blocked access to “a building that also houses Montréal’s Holocaust museum” (as some have been putting it) for a few hours. What was happening there was a talk by IDF reservists that the local Israeli and pro-Israeli activist cohort had initially planned to have happen at Concordia University.

This is a Jewish neighbourhood. In response to the demonstration, which sought to prevent access the building, a counterprotest formed. Dispersing and on the way to the métro station on Monday, there was a physical confrontation instigated by pro-Israeli protesters, in which a banner or a flag was seized; this devolved into a situation where some people were arrested. The next day there was more shit. A presumably mostly Jewish crowd with a bad sound system faced off with a Palestinian and pro-Palestinian crowd with a good sound system, starting around 3 pm. Nearby Jewish schools were shut down early. Nothing stabby happened, but a small crew of proto-JDL goons were present to do security, liaise with the SPVM, etc., and there were certainly many opportunities for some kind of ugly incident to happen on the sidelines – in the park, or at an intersection nearby – especially once the Sun had set.

By now, Memri TV has circulated its supercut of some of the worst lines from the Tuesday event. I want to note that, while obviously this is manipulative, the vibe is not entirely wrong. It’s not taken out of context. You never know with a hasbarist, but I presume they wouldn’t be so bold as to provide blatantly false subtitles for the Arabic.

On Thursday, as I began to write this article, another synagogue in Thornhill was the target of a demonstration. Arrests were made, and I don’t have the details, but I have been told they were pro-Israeli folks. The synagogue was the venue for yet another real estate event, this time, like the event on Tuesday in Montréal, selling properties in the West Bank. The event on Sunday had been mistaken for this one, where none of the properties on sale were in territories occupied by Israel after 1967; that event had gone ahead, however, because the demonstrators also reject the legitimacy of properties in Tel Aviv being sold.

LIKE, MY OPINION OR WHATEVER

I don’t think it’s worth much time second-guessing the actions of others. To everyone in the pro-Palestinian movement right now who isn’t ready to hear this criticism, fair enough. Maybe it doesn’t apply to you – and fuck, you’re certainly dealing with a lot of criticism right now that is bad faith and concern trollish, so I get why your defenses are up.

Although I can’t speak to its tactical execution or to the individual politics of every person who showed up (I wasn’t there), I think that what happened on Monday night, in Montréal, was entirely appropriate. The same building was the target of an occupation of the lobby in 2014, that time by a crowd of actually Jewish activists who, in the context of uneven exchanges of bombardment happening then, opposed the Federation CJA’s (that is, the local Jewish community council’s) position on, and indeed support of, the occupation of Palestine.

But what happened the next day was pretty fucked up. Not for the asinine reason that it is never appropriate to protest at a synagogue as a non-Jewish person, basically for any reason you want to, but because of who was on the mic and how the danger dial got turned up yet again, and this time for no strategically good reason.

I am not involved in these organizing group chats, but what I understand is that, after the events of Monday evening, which were already being widely reported (and to be be sure, lied about), there was a general sense in a large section of the local pro-Palestinian movement – for instance, in both the Palestinian Youth Movement and Independent Jewish Voices – that something needed to happen to oppose the real estate event at the synagogue, but it would have to have very different “optics” than what had happened at the Federation CJA building. This was supposed to look like a “Jewish-led event”. Incidentally, one had already been planned on Tuesday for several days before Monday, since the synagogue was not willing to cancel the real estate event.

What happened, however, is that another group apart from the PYM and IJV, called Montreal4Palestine, swooped in and organized their own event for when the real estate event was actually going to happen, at 3 pm. Their event brought a predominantly Muslim crowd, along with a handful of mostly silent, sign-holding Neturei Karta guys, to the area in the afternoon. I only knew about the IJV event, which started around 6 pm, because I don’t follow Montreal4Palestine’s Instagram account and I hadn’t checked local news.

I do not know what thought process, or lack of thought process, brought this about. I suspect the personalities who operate the Montreal4Palestine didn’t even know that IJV had planned this thing. If they did know, I can imagine one good reason for organizing something earlier in the day, which is that, if the event is happening at 3 pm, there is no possibility of a blockade or a disruption – as had happened on Monday – if the opposition is only showing up at 6 pm.

Beyond that, though – what the fuck?

Sorry for the run-on sentence, but it’s the same vibe as some of what I heard from the mic on Tuesday. At least one of the guys on the mic had some mixed up ideas about the Jews who were living in 7th-century Medina that he got from his religion (who, the hadith tells us, were very bad Jews indeed), modern-day conspiracy theories about Jews “colonializing” Germany that he probably got from YouTube, and some kind of half-baked version of an anti-colonial counterhistory – when he mentions that Jews that “oppressed” and “colonialized” South Africa, this is true insofar as a countable number of individual Jews were broadly speaking involved in or complicit with the consolidation of a settler-colonial and/or apartheid state in South Africa, but of course in a subsidiary and second-order role, as has also been the case with the colonization of Turtle Island (where, so far at least, you don’t see people outside of gurdwaras or in Chinatown bringing up the true fact that Sikhs and Chinese people, or certainly countable numbers thereof, are complicit in the Canadian colonial project) – and I have to ask, Why the fuck does this guy have the mic?

A full discourse analysis isn’t worth anyone’s time, but obviously a lot of what Memri TV highlighted isn’t that bad, in isolation. To offer another opinion: the guy in the keffiyeh who spoke the most in their supercut definitely has some weird ideas, and he clearly let his impulse to be provocative drive him to say a few fucked up things that, well, go beyond his expertise (for instance, when he spoke about who is “the true Jewish”). But whatever, he’s just one guy, and I have no doubt in my mind that in situations where adversarial social movements face off one with another, people are going to get hyped up and say stupid shit.

The question, for me, is why do this sort of thing at all. There was never any realistic possibility of disruption; the SPVM were in force in the neighbourhood by 2 pm, as any dedicated Montréal anti-systemic street activist should have expected. Hence a brawl of any kind over access to the synagogue – which I don’t think would have been a good idea, in the same way that I think that showing up to Montréal’s palais des congrès on April 21, 2012, wasn’t a good idea – would have been resolved decisively in favour of the pro-Israeli side in every respect.

This is not Concordia University, e.g. a downtown battleground, and neither is it a building somewhere in one of Montréal’s industrial parks where work is being done that will materially aid the Israeli war machine. It’s not the port, out of which something might be shipped to Israel. It’s not a lab that collaborates on weapons development with a lab in Israel somewhere. Except insofar as police resources may have been drawn to Côte-des-Neiges, which perhaps somewhat diminished the capacity of the police to respond to new events elsewhere in the territory of Montréal (I do not know of any anti-systemic action that took advantage of this during the hours of the opposing Tuesday rallies), it is clear that this did absolutely nothing to materially advance the struggle for a free Palestine.

Instead, it has rattled some of the shakier solidarity with the movement for a free Palestine that exists in local Jewish communities in a way that the events of Monday had not, and led to all sorts of capacity-diminishing soul searching and anguished exchanges on social media and over text.

There are some who will not be bothered by losing fairweather allies, but this is short-sighted. Whereas the Neturei Karta guys will probably stick with the free Palestine movement through thick and thin, they are also never going to actually do anything. Jewish anarchists, on the other hand, have a range of beliefs, and they might even be willing to hold to their opinions no matter how much you say that that’s kind of a colonial or privileged attitude. It is possible that they won’t be stoked by chants of “Judaism yes, Zionism no” in the full context of other shit that was being said. So perhaps they’re sensitive snowflakes and demanding brats – maybe. What Jewish anarchists (and their friends!) bring to the table, however, is an at least occasional willingness to do direct action that is actually useful, that generates productive conflict, rather than capacity-diminishing mutual acrimony that the police don’t even need to stoke themselves, of the kind that Tuesday’s events brought into being.

In the proper circumstances, like for instance a blockade, I am willing to hold my nose to work with people who don’t think exactly the same way as I do. Anyone who has spent any time in an Occupy encampment or at an indigenous-led blockade has had to deal with someone who believes in run-of-the-mill conspiracy theories, the false dream of international law, or some other kind of distracting inanity – and in the crucible of conflict with a more important adversary, like the SPVM or the RCMP, these differences of ideas don’t amount to much.

But the protest at the Spanish and Portuguese synagogue on Tuesday was different. There was no conflict that the SPVM did not have well taken care of. Even if we took the police out of the equation, and there had been direct conflict with “the Zionists”, I think it is worth asking whether or not it was a good idea to oppose them on their own turf, in a neighbourhood where they are thick on the ground, where the most hormonal, virile, and stupid as well of their youth go to school. Personally, I think that this is not worth it – certainly not a day after another action that was successful, and which therefore, in the logic of the forces of order (who very much still have a handle on things in the local context), cannot be allowed to be repeated the next day.

Of course it would have been a bad thing to let the real estate take place entirely unopposed, but that would have not happened. Yes, the Jewish-led event, scheduled for 6 pm (which, as an outsider, I have to insist was a mistake, it should have been scheduled for earlier), would have been wholly symbolic – but there is clearly some value in anything that creates fissures within the Jewish community of default sympathy for the Zionist cause, that demonstrates the non-identity of Jew and supporter of Israel in a way that cannot be ignored.

That didn’t get to happen. Sarah Boivin might have said some real shit, but the Jewish-led event effectively did not happen at all because Montreal4Palestine had swooped the earlier time slot. And the M4P folks did not cede the mic at 6 pm, either; a number of people who had been speaking in the hours earlier continued to say some dumb shit. A very rusty anti-oppressive framework, sorry heritage of the QPIRG scene and a cliché version of what well-salaried scholars tell us we were supposed to learn from the struggle of Black people in the United States, suggests that this is as it should be – Jews as mere auxiliaries to a Palestinian-led movement, the oppressor class submitting to the leadership of the oppressed.

As anarchists in Montréal, though, I want us to finally catch up with comrades in some other cities’ anarchist scenes and start and identifying this half-baked claptrap as not fucking good enough. Not fit for purpose, if it ever was. These are not ideas that uphold revolt, insurrection, revolution, or “positive change” of any kinds; they uphold the management of those energies that could otherwise produce graffiti, food given away for free at the corner, upside-down cruisers with their windshields smashed in, and disrupted supply chains, including those chains that sustain the Israeli national project.

Every social movement benefits from individuals freely associating, developing their own capacities to struggle, and establishing an independent range of action that doesn’t tie them to the bad decisions of other elements of the movement – for instance, those that content themselves with symbolic actions, lazy provocations, and predictable maneuvers. Like what happened on Tuesday.

Refusing to say these things publicly, out of fear of “throwing our allies under the bus”, is also not a good idea. Anyone who isn’t myopically committed to the growing power of the social movement, which is heterogenous and therefore mostly bad and not good (because fuck this pseudo-Trotskyist “multitudes” bullshit, we need influential minorities and not every asshole we can round up), should be able to come to their own idea about Montreal4Palestine, about how much the crowd as a whole should wear the worst excesses of certain speakers that Memri TV thought it was worth it to highlight, and so on – but they would need to know the story of what actually happened. The public statements available so far, crafted by activists using a consensus process over group chat, have not been up to task of letting people reach their own conclusions.

THE FUTURE OF LOCAL SYNAGOGUE PROTESTS

On Wednesday, March 6, a judge has banned protests for 10 days at the synagogue, the Federation CJA building, and a few other Jewish institutions in the same radius of a few blocks. It expires Saturday, March 16.

On Thursday, March 7, at a small pro-Palestinian event held in another part of town, a certain fellow whose name I shall not disclosed positively mentioned the website of Yves Engler, who is at a minimum annoying as hell, and promoted Assad regime supporter Aaron Maté’s speaking event at Concordia’s Hall building on the evening of March 15, a day when there is pretty much only one evening event in Montréal that’s worth promoting.

This same man, in his pontificating, told everyone gathered that they should oppose the Zionists and defy the injunction.

Personally, I have defied a bunch of injunctions like this over the years, and I generally think it is a good thing to do, because fuck the authority of the courts. But following this idiot once again into the breach – that is, once again into the Jewish neighbourhood around MacKenzie King Park – not even to protest any particular pro-Israeli event that the injunction protects, but simply the injunction itself, is plainly a waste of time and resources. A crowd of angry Jews will form, and some of them will probably be provocative in their own way. The stupidest person in the pro-Palestinian crowd will say or do something fucked up at some point (like how at least one person yelled “Death to Israel, death to Jews” in Arabic during the Monday action), and then a thousand stupid people on the internet will say that what is predictable, what is frankly very human, was definitely just a hasbarist fabrication, an AI-generated deepfake, etc., rather than a real racist thing that a real person really said.

Of course the police, empowered by an injunction and feeling more sympathy with Jews (Zionists, Israelis…) than Palestinians (Arabs, terrorists…), will probably crack heads. They will do so with no discrimination for whichever young well-meaning Concordia University student is there for their very first direct action.

Fuck this shitty plan offered up by this dusty campist.

If actions for a free Palestine continue happening in this corner of Côte-des-Neiges over the next week (or for however long the injunction is extended), or in any other conspicuously Jewish area of Montréal, anarchists should note that – but mostly to note that police resources will be tied up in that area at that time, indicating that perhaps we should be somewhere else, doing something else. Whether that something else is related to Israel, the war, or anything else “on theme” is an entirely different matter.

And people ought to get a fucking clue: we need to fight in our own neighbourhoods; otherwise, we need to fight at sites of production and at logistical hubs; we don’t need to follow the leader when the leader is an idiot (and in fact we should maybe shut him the fuck down); and things are far too serious to let ourselves lose a grip on what we’re trying to do and why we’re trying to do it.