archives of global protests

Dancing with Teargas in our Eyes
Written Report and Digital Photos by Gary Morton

I headed into the Quebec OQP-2001 March with seven people from Tao Toronto ( The Plains of Abraham were sunny at noon with a crowd building till about 1.30. In spite of all the hype about how protesters should dress, the people showed as a mixed crowd ... casual and eclectic with costumed and alternative elements.

The drumming and dancing began there and continued as the march poured out into the streets. Then we reached Rene-Levesque Blvd and confusion took over. A split developed with the main parade heading straight through to link up with a union parade, and anarchists with the other half heading for the wall and the riot police.

Having lost my friends in the mob I ended up at the fence, getting embroiled in a long encounter with the police. Shooting photos led to my being gassed badly about 10 times.

This battle raged all day long and into the night. It was still underway when we left at ten p.m. Perhaps you've heard of the new world order bombing Iraq and Yugoslavia into submission ... this time their aim was to bomb protesters and a large portion of downtown Quebec into submission.

They opened fire on us with tear gas rockets and water cannons and the thoom and thud of the fire echoed across the city hour after hour. Riot cops sent exploding canisters into streets, fields, down steep alleys ... everywhere ... choking those up front and even ordinary citizens and residents in the downhill streets.

There weren't any brave groups of cops dashing out to make arrests. When they came out to charge and try to pincer us it was always with huge marching columns of riot guys that boomed out more tear gas rockets.

Like in Iraq, they were afraid to risk a man, but had no problem with bombing everyone in town. Protesters ran through the smoke with endless energy tossing the canisters back at police. The crowd drummed and pounded on everything ... metal flag poles, guard rails, snare and other drums ... sending out an eerie din of war that reached its peak in the night below the underpass ... where a huge crowd danced wildly as the battle continued at the top of the steep ravine. In the spotlights riot cops and protesters clashed, huge curtains of gas floated and canisters came right down the ravine side and exploded, leaving some people overcome while others continued to dance furiously in the night and firelight with tears in their eyes.

In the afternoon I ran from scene to scene. Incredible stuff was happening everywhere. Arriving at one spot I saw a guy run up and grab the fence, only to have a gas canister fired into the chain links explode in his face to send him flying to the pavement. Medics dragged him up an embankment and I watched them treat his bleeding face and arms. A few minutes later they were gone and I lobbed rocks and a beer bottle down on the riot cops then ran off down an alley with tear gas canisters exploding at my heels.

In a different area I met up with anarchists in heavy gear going up a narrow street and watched as they set a building inside the fence on fire with Molotovs. At times people ran in panic on many of the streets as gas firing riot cops charged. Protesters fought their way back to the start point of the conflict. Tremendous waves of gas hit us there and the huge police columns came back out and caused a panicked run to the downhill streets. When the cop columns halted cheerleaders faced them at the front, creating the odd scene of smoke and riot cops preparing to rush girls dancing in tartan skirts.

Protest drummers knocked out a steady beat, a Quebec City resident blasted Pink Floyd's - All in All Your Just Another Brick in the Wall from his balcony, and when it ended we were running downhill through exploding gas.

In the lower streets and downtown groups of protesters were everywhere in circles - sitting, standing, crowding roadways. Yet the only violence came with the police. I saw small fires, almost no property damage ... wrath was reserved for the police and the wall, and each time the riot cops came the protesters showed the courage that the police didn't have. People took tremendous risks grabbing the bombs, running in to throw anything they could at the cops, preventing them from getting a soft crowd they could surround and arrest.

One guy had a whole column of cops crush him. It continues in the night. Soon the cops will goose step to the bottom to claim arrests and victory.

And it will be democracy again - where bombs rule, and the new world order is victorious.

You can only dance with teargas in your eyes.

Fuck the FTAA!