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police provocateurs

I’ve got a lot of activist friends who tell me that when peaceful protests get violent, it’s usually undercover cops *pretending* to be protesters who start throwing the rocks at the cops – which gives the cops just the excuse to come in with batons and break up the protest with teargas and violence and arrest the protesters etc. It seemed logical to me, but I’d never seen any proof – and there *are* some crazy anarchist groups out there, the Black Bloc, who are violent.

Anyway, here’s a vid capturing a bunch of undercover cops (agents provocateurs) in masks trying to start a riot so that a peaceful protest gets broken up; and a union guy confronting them, realizing they are cops, and sending them on their way.

Next is a CBC report about the cops admitting that the masked men with rocks indeed were cops. There to “find and shut down violent protestors.” Sure. Take a look at the videos. (And here is the Surete du Quebec response … including a video of a press release … 2+2=5 … 2+2=5 ….2+2=5).

So, is this legal? Should it be?

The raw vid:

And the news report about the police admitting the guys were cops:

(Thanks to Dan for the tip)

UPDATE: from the police statement (pdf):

Concerning the video broadcast on YouTube, as we confirmed yesterday, the three people in question were indeed Sûreté du Québec police officers performing their duties. They had the mandate to locate and identify non-peaceful demonstrators in order to prevent excesses. They therefore joined a group of demonstrators that contained extremist elements. Those elements identified our police officers, who could not pursue their mandate. It was when leaving that group that they found themselves in a group of peaceful demonstrators. They then asked the police officers assigned to crowd control to leave the premises. Since those officers did not recognize them, they wrestled the Sûreté du Québec officers to the ground and handcuffed them in order to take them aside to confirm their identity. That intervention was never considered or presented by the Sûreté du Québec as an arrest. Furthermore, at no time did the officers in question engage in provocation or incite anyone to commit violent acts. In the framework of the Montebello summit, as after each large-scale operation, the Sûreté du Québec obtains complete feedback on its interventions. If there are methods or procedures to be changed or adjusted, you can rest assured that will done. The goal is always to improve our practices in order to carry out our mission effectively and in keeping with the established legal framework.


  1. Shawna Nelles Shawna Nelles 2007-08-26

    This kind of thing has been going on for a while, I guess the police are going to have to rethink their tactics with all this mass reaching media in the hands of the people. Nice to see it finally gets out. I don’t think people ever really believed me when I’d tell my stories of this kind of thing happening in QC FTAA. Now they might :)

    more on flickr.. thought this was funny:

  2. Hugh Hugh 2007-08-26

    yup. i’ve heard tons of these kinds of stories for years, but in the mainstream people figure just: violent anarchist protestors cause trouble, police overreact. shrug. the story never got out.

    and it’s much worse than that obviously, so police are being watched now – and the videos will get out. to the extent that people can hang onto their cameras … but where before there might have been 5 cameras, there are probably now 50 + access to a distribution platform. so…interesting to see how this plays out.

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