Sunday, April 7, 2013

Montreal police seize head of protest Panda

On Friday night, April 5, Montreal police seized Anarchopanda's head during a demonstration against a municipal bylaw. Montreal police said that the head was taken because the law forbids the wearing of masks during demonstrations.
Daniel Lacoursiere said the mask was also taken because it "is considered to be an exhibit and could be used in court." The man under the head, Julien Villeneuve, whose head was left intact, is a philosophy professor at Maisonneuve College. He has already received two fines of $637 each as he was caught by police. He was fined both for a wearing a mask and participating in an illegal protest. Back on March 22nd he was only fined for taking part in an illegal protest. The bylaw being protested, P-6, are the guidelines imposed on protesters who demonstrate in Montreal. Protesters object to many of the provisions of the bylaw including the filing of a route itinerary some time before the protest. The bylaw also prohibits the wearing of masks. Anarchopanda's head in police eyes is a mask and that is why it has been seized as an exhibit. In a kettling tactic the Panda was corralled along with 279 others who were each assessed the $637 fine for participating in an illegal assembly.
Anarchopanda has become an icon of the Quebec student protest last spring. His first appearance was on May 8, 2012. The professor under the head, tries to create a buffer between police and students in order to avoid violence at demonstrations. He describes himself as an anarcho-pacifist. In an interview with the Montreal newspaper Le Devoir, Villeneuve said: "If peaceful students deserve to be beat with police batons, pepper sprayed, shot with rubber bullets or flash grenades for demonstrating, so do I."
Villeneuve chose the Panda suit because it was what he thought was the nicest and cheapest costume he could find on eBay China. Before buying the Panda suit, he had tried to use what he calls his "human skin" as a buffer between police and students but he finds that the Panda suit is more practical and less paternalist. There has been no word from the Chinese embassy protesting police brutality in removing the head of a giant panda

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