Police Assault women at International Women’s Day March

by
Police brutality mars Women's Day Celebration in Montreal

Listen to an interview with 17-year old marcher Emma on 
the attacks last night, conducted by Nissima on Off the Hour 
(Friday 17-18h00).

From the Press Release:

On Thursday, March 8th, as Montrealers, along with many around the world celebrated International Women’s Day – the event was marred by police brutality in which three young women were assaulted, injured and traumatized. Among the issues that were brought up during the speeches at Montreal’s women’s day march was that in Iran women were prevented from celebrating international women’s day. And women in Pakistan were also attacked yesterday in a women’s day event. Yesterday’s events make ensure Montreal shares this distinction!

Marchers celebrating International Women’s Day had walked from Place Emilie Gamelin (Berri Square) to Phillips Square, along Ste-Catherine Street. After speeches they made their way back to Berri Square. The police made an announcement asking people to walk on the sidewalk. Jaggi Singh, who had been one of many male supporters among the 200 strong celebrating international women’s day moved onto the sidewalk. The others continued marching in the street. Police officers began to rush towards Singh, still walking on the sidewalk. They grabbed him and threw him against a nearby police car.

Other marchers gathered around the car out of concern for the violent way in which police were intervening. Police began hitting and pushing people indiscriminately. Several people were knocked to the ground with batons and night sticks. Emma Strople, a 17 year old marcher, was hit in the chest with the end of a night stick and thrown to the ground, by an officer later identified as Doyon. Her ribs were bruised, she was winded, trembling from shock and her knee was cut open enough that the blood seeped through her jeans. Two other women were also injured – one woman’s lips and mouth were swollen and bleeding, from being punched in the face by a police officer; another left with cuts on her knee and stomach. The police showed a total disregard for the injuries mounting around them. They placed Jaggi Singh in the police car and began to leave. The marchers that remained left by Berri Metro.

The 8th March Committee of Women of Diverse Origins, one of the key groups involved in the march strongly denounces last night’s police brutality yesterday and the arrest of Singh. Are we to go back to the time when women in Canada were not considered ‘persons’? When women were to be seen and not heard? In Quebec today on the eve of an election we have seen how violence against women is still something that is trivialized, including by those that seek to represent us in the democratic system. Yesterday’s police attack on women and their allies proves that even those who are supposed to be the guardians of the law and ensure gender equality, see women as people to be controlled with the threat and the use of violence. Women, as we struggle for equality are facing a backlash. How can we feel safe when the police themselves exhibit the violence that is endemic to patriarchy?

More than ever the police brutality of yesterday demonstrates that we have a long way to go; that women’s struggles for equality that have always linked to improving the lives of our families and communities, ensuring democratic processes of equality and participation of ALL in the political process are constantly BLOCKADED by the state and its representatives. How can women seek assistance against the violence in their lives when those entrusted with their safekeeping are perpetrators of brutality and violence?

Last night’s police violence is shameful and fearful. We demand that the City of Montreal and the government of Quebec immediately investigate the assaults and arrest of yesterday and that women, our allies and supporters feel safe and free to work in support of equality and justice.

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