Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Les provocateurs?

There's a video making the rounds of the You Tube universe that suggests that agents of the Surete de Quebec may have donned the cloth of the protester and tried to stir things up between police and those protesting the SPP amigos gathering in Quebec this week.

The video (see here) features three masked "protesters" ignoring the requests of the protest Marshalls to drop their rocks and remove their masks.

As things begin to get ugly around them, the three calmly march through the lines and are gently handcuffed and led away, a rather calm approach to a group that only moments before appeared to be rather threatening.

The video has raised the ire of those that were in Montebello to exercise their right to protest, especially as it seems to feature the three as the main combatants at that particular time. In fact, as the video plays out the only folks seemingly looking for trouble at the time were the three masked men, who slipped through the police lines to their peaceful rest "in custody".

The union CUPE, was quick to post a picture of the arrests, which features a still photo of one of the "protesters" footwear, which bears a rather close resemblance to that of the folks holding the batons at the moment.

Interestingly enough, no names were released of the three men "arrested" as no charges were apparently laid after the incident.

The CBC contacted a retired Ottawa Police officer who was at one time in charge of watching over protests in the capital. Doug Kirkland questions whether the three were legitimate protesters and said that if the video is as it appears, it was a practice that he didn't approve of, as it came very close to "baiting". also quoted Kirkland in a story they posted to their website, in which he suggests that the three may have been private security personnel, a trio who didn't quite fit in with the crowd that they were infiltrating.

The trio could have been “rogues” or private security personnel, he said. “Honestly, I can’t imagine any police officer who’s in command putting three more mismatched people into that situation,”

Neither the RCMP or the SQ the provincial police in Quebec are commenting on the situation, with the SQ stating that the three were not in their employ.

The debate on the CTV site, seems to be splitting down the ranks of those who believe they were police officers there to try to glean information, while others suggest they were there to incite an incident giving the riot squad an opportunity to clear the area. Regardless, it would appear that for the most part, the smell test suggests that the three were somehow in the employ of the police in some capacity and as things turned out didn't do a very good job at whatever it was that they were supposed to be doing.

The mystery will no doubt stay alive until some answers are forthcoming, and unless the three in question somehow begin to do the talk show circuit it's rather doubtful that we'll find out exactly why there were there and what the plan was.

Though the three can surely count it as a "lucky" break that they didn't spend any time in jail, nor will they have to face any time in front of a judge and all that pesky publicity that would go with it.

CBC-Undercover cops tried to incite violence in Montebello: union leader
CTV News-Officers never posed as protesters: Quebec police
Torontoist- Bon Cop, Bad Cop
The Harper Index- Agents provocateurs active at Montebello?
Globe and Mail- Fake summit protesters provoked violence: Union Police planted rock-toting ‘agents’ at protest
Toronto Star- Police accused of using provocateurs at summit
Toronto Star- Police deny using 'provocateurs' at summit

Update, August 23: Police admit that three "protesters" were theirs

Globe and Mail- QPP admit to 'agents' but not 'provocateurs'
CBC News- Quebec police admit they went undercover at Montebello protest
CTV News- Quebec police says masked protesters were cops
Canoe- Cops posed as summit protesters

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