By Dany Guay-Bélanger
During our meetings at Share the Warmth I decided to skip the bus ride, in favour of walking from and to Charlevoix metro station. Like this, I could familiarize more with the neighbourhood, and I would be able immerse myself in our place of study. My route would always bring me in front of the rue Knox Mural. I was impressed when I heard that one of the ‘sponsors’ for the project had been a local anarchist activist group.
Graffiti near mural pdf <– click here
Though not considering myself an anarchist, I have become increasingly interested in anarchist activism. I was somewhat involved in the student movement of 2012 and, at the time, was uncertain concerning my position towards the actions some anarchist groups, such as the Black Block, took during the protests. I was present for the March 22 protest and felt a sense of ecstasy due to the sheer number of people rallying to protect what they thought was their right — education. Shortly after this event, and reading several articles talking of the involvement of anarchists in the protest movement, my attitude of near indifference to the anarchist became more one of understanding. I remember reading an article about a senior citizen who had been indifferent to the student movement until Bill 78 was passed. He then thought that the situation had become ridiculous and the people should not be muzzled, causing him to to protest with the students, as other groups had also done. He was nervous about the presence of anarchists in the crowd, but his opinion would soon change. As most of the protest turned awry, the one he attended also did. He was badly affected by the tear gas and pepper spray used by police to disperse protesters. Anyone who has been affected by such chemical weapons knows the incredible pain and suffering they cause. It was at this moment that from the crowd came the anarchist, pulled the people affected, took care of their injuries, and attempted to calm the effects of the gas and spray. After this even this man, who had once feared the anarchist, now saw their true face. A face of community, of defiance, one that would fight tooth and nails for what they believed in — the people — manifested itself. The senior citizen then claimed that he was no longer afraid of the anarchist and that he had gained great respect for them.
Seeing the mural and hearing of the activism anarchist in the Pointe were part of, reminded me of this feeling. Every time I would pass near the mural, I would try to pay attention to the new graffiti that appeared around it. Most of them were the typical anarchist symbol of the ‘circle-A’, but one large one caught my attention. This one , which I attached to this post, reads: ‘Porcs-flics-assassins de Ferguson à MTL’. Even though being extreme in its rhetoric, it represents anarchist thought, since the police is seen as a an oppressive institution. Yet, this was also representative of universalist thought. In this case, the person who wrote it felt a feeling of connection with the people of Ferguson, Missouri who were fighting against police oppression and racism. The area around the mural is a great spot of conversation and argumentation. This graffiti fits in perfectly with the surrounding conversations, it portrays community rising up to fight oppression, a theme which is not alien to the mural. While I do not agree with everything anarchists believe in, these events have affected my frame of mind. What I take out of these experiences is to listen to what others have to say, especially those who share different beliefs that your own. They might just have compelling arguments.