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Bananarchy in QC!

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.
Banane Rebelle is the poster child of the revolution
Banane Rebelle is the poster child of the revolution
Banane Rebelle in an equally absurd arrest on May 24
Banane Rebelle in an equally absurd arrest on May 24

A lively crowd of protestors was awaiting student strike leaders and government negotiators as they exited a building in the old section of Québec City at about 10 p.m. on May 28. Although the atmosphere had been festive and completely free of vandalism, Québec City police (Service de police de la Ville de Québec) declared the protest illegal under section 500.1 of the Highway Safety Code.


The measure allows police to take action against gatherings that pose a danger to vehicular traffic. Although there is very little traffic in the Vieux Québec at 10 p.m. on a weekday night, perhaps authorities were concerned that Banane Rebelle (Rebel Banana) might cause a car to skid out of control.


The protestors had been encircled by police who were starting to make arrests. Léo Bureau-Blouin of the “moderate” student federation, FECQ, and his team of lawyers tried to negotiate with the police to allow for the crowd to disperse peacefully.


Police negotiated with the student leader, all the while continuing to arrest protestors and load them onto buses.


Meanwhile, Philippe Lapointe and Justin Arcand, negotiators from the “radical” student organization CLASSE (which represents about half the province’s striking students) joined the crowd and were promptly arrested.


According to Banane Rebelle (who also goes by the name of Gabriel Marcoux-Chabot), last night’s events are a scene in a piece of absurdist theatre concocted by Québec authorities to “make people believe that protestors are violent criminals who must be dealt with harshly.”


The bananarchist has written his own fruity role in the ongoing student strike and larger occupy 2.0 social movement. The writer and artist says he wants to “make fun of the government’s assertions about the movement” and combat what he sees as a Québec Liberal Party electoral strategy of breeding ignorance and fear about protestors.


The elements of last night’s street theatre (which you can watch on video) perfectly mirrored the larger picture of what is referred to in Québec media as the “crise étudiante” (student crisis):


  • Division of students into “reasonable” groups with whom the government can negotiate and “radical” factions who are illegitimately challenging the system
  • Meaningless negotiations with authorities that have no intention of ceding to any demands
  • Gross exaggeration of a bananarchist threat to justify heavy-handed state repression


Although some thought he might be able to give authorities the slip, Banane Rebelle, along with 83 other protestors, was taken into custody and later released (protestors may receive a ticket and a fine at a later date). Many had feared the worst for the big yellow fellow because, apparently, he bruises easily.


David Bernans is a Québec-based writer and translator. Follow him on twitter @dbernans.

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