Reprinted from www.libertylobby.org, home of The SPOTLIGHT archive
Police State Quashes Dissent in Quebec
By Christopher J. Petherick
Behind a 10-foot-high steel fence braced by concrete barriers that snaked two miles through upper Quebec City, Canada, leaders from 34 nations in the Western Hemisphere gathered at the third Summit of the Americas on April 20-22 to discuss expanding the sovereignty-stealing NAFTA into a continental trading bloc.
Gathered outside the security perimeter were between 20,000 and 30,000 protesters, representing a broad range of issues from the environment to trade unions, who concurrently held their own People's Summit and loudly showed their disdain for globalization.
As the globalists' meetings were set to kick off on April 20, riot police used tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannons, police dogs, truncheons, and military tactics on several thousand protesters at the main entrance to the security perimeter on Rene Levesque street.
In the ensuing chaos, the Hilton Hotel, which housed many of the diplomats, and the neighboring Congress Center, where most of the meetings were held, were locked down by Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Summit attendees were not allowed to leave or enter either building, and many, as a result of the protests, were forced to miss scheduled talks and meetings.
In addition, opening remarks by Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien were delayed for two hours until police were sure no protesters had sneaked past police lines.
For the next three days, 6,000 Canadian security forces from the RCMP, local police and neighboring law enforcement, wearing body armor, gas masks and helmets and carrying truncheons and shields, repeatedly fired CS tear gas, pepper spray, stun grenades and rubber bullets hundreds of yards into crowds of protesters, which included tourists and children.
So much CS tear gas was shot into the air, many of the presidents and prime ministers, who were staying at least 200 yards behind the security fence, retired to their rooms to escape the overwhelming effect of the tear gas and watched the protests live on television.
CS tear gas reacts with mucous membranes causing temporary blindness as the victims' eyes fill with tears. An awful burning sensation on the nose and mouth occurs and, in some cases, it can make victims vomit. The gas remains on the skin and clothes, so when eyes and nose are rubbed by exposed hands, rags or clo thing, the whole painful process repeats itself.
Even though police are told explicitly not to shoot people with tear gas canisters, at least two protesters were shot directly in the chest as they tried to pick up and throw gas canisters back at the police lines. One of the demonstrators fell to the ground after being shot and had to be helped away by others. The other turned and ran.
Police also used Arwen 37 guns to fire hard-coated rubber bullets at several protesters, in the fashion Israeli soldiers deal with Palestinians.
On the first day, Canadian Broadcast News interviewed one demonstrator who was shot in the knee with a rubber bullet while running from riot police. The in jured demonstrator, who was being treated by volunteer doctors, said his knee was severely swollen and possibly broken as a result of the shooting.
Canadian news also reported that government informants were placed amidst protest groups so leaders could be identified and arrested.
Eventually, riot police brought in armored personnel carriers with water canons to push protesters from the security zone. Riot police, in military formation, boxed in demonstrators and saturated the area with tear gas in a show of force to quell organized protests.
From the beginning of the weekend meetings, Canadian and U.S. officials ad mitted they were preparing for "war."
Immigration officials on both sides of the border took unprecedented steps to beef up security as thousands of people attempted to cross to go to Quebec City.
"Entry into Canada is a privilege, not a right," Richard St. Louis, a spokesman for the Canadian Citizenship and Immi gration Ministry, told The Montreal Ga zette.
Looking for any reason to deny entrance, police scrutinized border crossers, often detaining them at the immigration office for hours. Thousands were denied admittance to the country for varying rea sons.
At the busiest crossing, along the Vermont border, Gov. Howard Dean (D) called out the National Guard and flew in extra police to ensure there were no problems. Several representatives of the Electricians' Union who tried to cross in Vermont were denied because one union member had been convicted of a minor crime as a youth in the late 1970s.
At the Champlain border crossing in New York two students from the State University of New York at Plattsburg were questioned and searched by police. A police dog was used to inspect their belongings.
The two students reported ridiculous questioning, such as: "Are you a protester?" "Do you consider yourself an acti vist?" and "Are you violent?"
This writer was detained at the Champlain border for more than an hour as police scrutinized my media credentials. Summit of the Americas officials denied me a media pass for the meeting and I was forced to attend the protests without official identification.
While police allowed reporters from CNN, Canadian News, ABC News, Asso ciated Press and others to wander inside riot police lines and controlled areas, I was treated as any other demonstrator who tried to get too close to the security fence -- with orders to back-off and tear gas.
Part residential, part business district, the upper town of Quebec City had already prepared for the expected disruptions. Expecting vandalism, shop owners boarded up windows and closed down for the weekend.
A McDonald's fast food restaurant -- a common target for anti-globalization protesters because the multinational corporation aggressively promotes its fat junk food around the world -- removed its sign and painted over the store-front in an attempt to hide.
There were, however, only isolated reports of vandalism in the business and restaurant district, only blocks away from the hot spots of the demonstration.