Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Montreal Police Refine Propaganda Tactics

SOC Editor: The police in Montreal are utilizing social media to construct a social bogeyman of the `criminal` protestor. This is needed to counter the anti-police symbolism fostered by annual anti-police protests that capture headlines every year. The Montreal Gazette reports:


Police brass tried out some new PR tactics in the hours before Tuesday's annual showdown between Montreal cops and protesters who were marching against police brutality. Intelligence tactics were revealed. Journalists were tagged. Messages were tweeted.

As part of a daylong information offensive, police explained to reporters in great detail how investigators can spot some suspects before they commit criminal acts, and that this is part of their method to control and contain public protests.

Preventive arrests, Lemay said, can be made under Article 495 (1) of Canada's Criminal Code, which allows the arrest of a person that a peace officer believes "is about to commit an indictable offence."

"We're not profiling people," Chief Inspector Sylvain Lemay, head of police operational planning, insisted. "But when we see people dressed in black, wearing ski masks and knapsacks and they have flags indicating their intent we have good reason to believe they don't fit into the decor. ... I think most regular citizens who see a group like this in the street would agree with us."

Ten people arrested Saturday in Montreal at the start of a march against tuition fee hikes were preventively arrested, Lemay added. Some of them had knives in their knapsacks and flyers about the March 15 anti-police brutality march, he said.

Those arrested have all subsequently been released, with conditions, he noted. "But now we have their photos and their files are on record." Police were to have their eyes peeled for those 10 at Tuesday's protest, he added.

Deputy Police Chief Denis Desroches stressed preventive arrests are made only in the seconds or moments before an officer believes a criminal act is about to be committed.

Police have been using social media and security video cameras to monitor protest participants.

In an effort to better distinguish journalists from traditional media outlets from others with video cameras at protests, reporters on Tuesday were offered Day-Glo orange stickers marked "M├ędias" in big letters. During the demonstration, police posted regular updates on the department's Twitter feed.

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

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