An anarchist group known for staging violent demonstrations is planning to disrupt the Montreal St. Patrick’s Day parade.
Canada’s National Post reports that The Collective Opposed to Police Brutality, whose marches “habitually devolve into riots,” is calling upon its followers to gather on Sunday, March 22 at a location one block from the parade route, which proceeds along Montreal’s St. Catherine St.
The group is also instructing its followers to wear green, likely in an attempt to confuse police by blending in with the St. Patrick’s Day revelers.
The demonstration is planned for 1:30pm. The St. Patrick’s Day parade, which is marking its 192nd year, kicks off at noon, and the organizers say it will still be in session at the time of the group’s protest.
An announcement in French on the website for the Collective Opposed to Police Brutality instructs followers to “Come join the St. Patrick’s Day parade! Green Dress Code! The more they cut, the more cops they add.”
Though they stand for an exceedingly different cause, this is not the first time a group has tried to usurp St. Patrick's Day celebrations as a forum for protest. Last year white supremacist groups in the US used the weekend before Paddy's Day as a day of action.
Montreal police are aware of the protest and are in touch with the St. Patrick’s Day parade organizers.
Kevin Murphy, one of the parade organizers and vice president of public relations for the United Irish Societies of Montreal, told reporters, "We are disappointed they are planning to have a protest around the parade, but we still plan to have our parade."
He expressed concern for the many families with young children who attend the parade, adding, "We just hope they take those people into consideration and decide instead to celebrate with us instead of having their demonstration," said Murphy.
Yesterday, the Montreal Gazette published an editorial slamming the group for its intentions to “mar the St. Patrick’s Day parade.”
Asking if nothing was sacred, the editorial board wrote, “This fun family event has been uniting Montrealers of different ages, linguistic groups and backgrounds for years at one happy street party where everyone is Irish, at least for the day. Established in 1824, it has become an annual rite of spring in a city that loves a parade.
“Anarchists goading police into kettling and cuffing demonstrators in a contrived effort to prove authorities are heavy-handed has also become an annual tradition, though a most unwelcome one.
“There is no reason these two events need to take place on the same day, let alone in the same location. The anti-police brutality march organizers seem to be planning to hold the United Irish Societies of Montreal and the public at large hostage, endangering children in the process (or disappointing them, if their parents, fearing turmoil, decide to give the parade a miss this year).
"Police brutality is a legitimate issue worthy of social concern, but those who choose to denounce it by doing their best to provoke it only undermine an important cause."