Masked or unmasked

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dandynick5
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Masked or unmasked

Post by dandynick5 »

Interesting discussion about Montreal debating whether protestors should be allowed to wear masks.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/capress/1003 ... protesters

Fight to demask Montreal protesters pits cops vs. civil libertarians

By Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press

MONTREAL - The question of whether protesters should be banned from wearing face masks is pitting civil libertarians against Montreal's police force, and the cops appear to be losing.
City hall has washed its hands of the issue just one year after floating the idea of a mask ban.
No other Canadian city has such a bylaw, and civil liberties organizations say unmasking protesters is an affront to freedom of expression.
Such a move would have had Montreal following in the footsteps of some foreign jurisdictions, including New York City, where a bylaw banning masks has been in effect since 1845.
Last year, France banned protesters from wearing masks after particularly violent clashes during a NATO summit between black-clad protesters and French police. The new French law carries fines of 1,500 or 3,000 euros, depending on the offence.
It's the same group of protesters that routinely causes trouble at Montreal's annual demonstration against police brutality, police here say. They're dressed in black, masked, and they often carry weapons ranging from Molotov cocktails to bricks.
Following clashes at last Monday's annual protest, Chief Insp. Sylvain Lemay said that if protesters are hiding their faces, they must be up to no good.
His comments came after 100 people were arrested during the typically raucous and slightly violent anti-police march.
It was a calmer-than-usual event this year, but nonetheless one that involved police having beer bottles and firecrackers hurled at them in the city's east end.
"For the last 14 years, we've let them protest even though they don't get a permit from the city or the police," Lemay said.
"What we want is to be able to ensure the protest takes place in a peaceful and secure manner for everyone."
But city spokesman Bernard Larin said the issue of introducing a bylaw was discussed last January before a municipal hearing, and didn't go any further than that.
"We said at the time we would examine all the judicial questions before going forward and consider both the Quebec and Canadian Charter of Rights," Larin said.
"There were a number of issues that arose that haven't been resolved and for now there is no request to go further at this point."
The issue remains on the back burner, Larin said.
Bylaw amendments that were studied by the city would have included certain exceptions for the weather, or for masks poking fun of a politician.
But human-rights organizations said the changes still opened the door to potential abuses.
"Engaging in public protest is a basic democratic right and you can't assume that all those who choose to anonymously express their point of view are doing so for nefarious reasons," said Abby Deshman, a project manager at the Canada Civil Liberties Association in Toronto.
In a world with Facebook, cellphone cameras and all-news television, there are many reasons people would want to participate but not expose themselves to the world, Deshman said.
"To force them all to reveal their identity would put a significant chill on this type of expression. In general, people should be arrested for what they do and not what they wear," Deshman said.
Montreal civil-rights lawyer Julius Grey agreed such a bylaw could be abused, and said it should be up to the police and the city to show why it's necessary.
"They're going to have to show that their concern is sufficiently important to overcome the freedom of expression (concerns) and the right to demonstrate however they want," Grey said.
"I think it is of serious limitation of freedom of expression."
Grey said he doesn't doubt that police could sometimes demonstrate the necessity but, at first glance, says such a bylaw seems unconstitutional and would surely be met with a legal challenge.
Lemay, in charge of operational planning at the police force, said a discussion should be held between police and protesters to get to the root of the problem.
A spokeswoman for the Coalition Against Police Brutality says police haven't asked them to sit down and, after Monday's events, it's unlikely they'll change their tactics.
"They'll need to change their attitude that they've adopted towards us," said Sophie Senecal.
Senecal also said it was rich that police would want protesters to unmask, after a Youtube video surfaced of undercover police officers wearing masks to infiltrate the group.
Of the 100 arrests, 83 were for municipal bylaw infractions and 17 were for Criminal Code offences. A year earlier, 221 people were arrested.
Montreal police handle 1,500 gatherings yearly and estimate that between 95 and 98 per cent end without any arrests.


Why does a person need to wear a mask to protest, if it's a legitimate protest?
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Woodenhead
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Re: Masked or unmasked

Post by Woodenhead »

Because you could be identified & put into a database for being a "troublemaker" or some such thing, I guess, regardless if what you're doing is legit & law-abiding or not. Plus you never know what kind of crap is going to happen at such events - I'd rather play it safe (same reason the police at these events wear masks).
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Re: Masked or unmasked

Post by dandynick5 »

So what I'm wondering is so what if your picture goes into a database? If you don't do anything wrong at a protest, then what is the worry?

As for the cops, it might be like why our Institution response teams wear masks. Because we work the floor 99 percent of the time, why should the bad guys know who we are? Again, the onus is on us to do right so that the only reason for the masks is for a lack of reprisals by the inmates when we're back on the floor working among them. There is usually some form of i.d. on the helmet or mask if you will so that if the inmate feels they were mistreated, they do have some i.d. to give to the investigation.
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grumpydigger
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Re: Masked or unmasked

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dandynick5 wrote:So what I'm wondering is so what if your picture goes into a database? If you don't do anything wrong at a protest, then what is the worry?
[*]you're kidding right, perhaps we should take DNA samples from babies when they're born and put computer chips in them to................after all .......... if you're doing nothing wrong what do you have to worry about :200:

Just remember, every time the government says are doing something to make the public safer.......... they are really just taken away one more of your rights and freedoms........
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Re: Masked or unmasked

Post by Woodenhead »

The whole "If you don't do anything wrong then you don't have to worry" angle is a lame argument IMO. (sorry - I don't mean that as a personal thing) Big Brother & all that. Plus I don't trust those in power to always make the right decision.

I suppose one could also make the argument that forcing people not to wear masks is akin to assuming that they are guilty until being proven innocent.
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dandynick5
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Re: Masked or unmasked

Post by dandynick5 »

No offense taken Woodenhead. It's something I ran across in the news this afternoon and I'm throwing it out there. Debate away folks.
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big-d2C
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Re: Masked or unmasked

Post by big-d2C »

myself i think that as with the police i would not want to be known, if something were to go down (that i did not instagate) i would not want my face shown or to be labled with those that choose to do harm or wrong
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Re: Masked or unmasked

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big-d2C wrote:myself i think that as with the police i would not want to be known, if something were to go down (that i did not instagate) i would not want my face shown or to be labled with those that choose to do harm or wrong

The reverse of that is you have a swarm of 50 or 100 people all wearing black, all wearing masks, and three or four commit illegal acts. How are the police supposed to deal with that situation?
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Woodenhead
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Re: Masked or unmasked

Post by Woodenhead »

Well, there is no perfect answer for this, if what you're looking for 100% accountability. Unfortunately, that requires too much sacrifice on the part of innocent citizens, and I'm not about to go that route. Besides, just try and enforce a "protester dress code" - they'd probably stage a protest against that where they all dress the same anyway. Are you going to put people in jail because of how they dress? I know many would say "yes" but IMO that's ridiculous. There are much more pressing things to fix in our society than that.

Also - what kind of masks would be OK? I know in plenty of rallies you'll see people in costume & stuff like that, as part of the protest itself. That kind of thing should be totally OK to do, just like being allowed to carry signs.

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Nebula
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Re: Masked or unmasked

Post by Nebula »

It seems to me people should be allowed to dress as they wish, however the reason these protesters dress the way they do is to hide the illegal acts going on. They all dress the same way in order to make it very difficult for authorities to figure out who the perpetratros are. It's anonymity in numbers. It's set up so that illegal acts can be perpetrated without the guilty parties being caught.
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Re: Masked or unmasked

Post by Woodenhead »

Nebula wrote:They all
I hear what you're saying, but now you're generalizing. And you're playing the "guilty until proven innocent" game.
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Re: Masked or unmasked

Post by Nebula »

Woodenhead wrote:
Nebula wrote:They all
I hear what you're saying, but now you're generalizing. And you're playing the "guilty until proven innocent" game.

Well I don't think I am generalizing very much. You look at any of these big protests and, within the protest, there is a group that all dress very similar. They may not be exactly the same, but certainly close enough that distinguishing one from the other is difficult.
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Re: Masked or unmasked

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It's this guy you gotta watch out for ...

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Re: Masked or unmasked

Post by I Think »

I agree that there is no 100% solution, you bump up against the right of someone to wear a religious costume which hides their identity, and the right of someone else to be certain that the person they are dealing with (lenders et al) is actually that person.
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dandynick5
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Re: Masked or unmasked

Post by dandynick5 »

Some interesting points made. We criticize our justice and law enforcement officials when crimes are committed, but when a scenario arises where crime can be permitted, then do we put fetters on these officials to deal with it? You have a protest of say a hundred or so, and most everyone is peaceable but a few take the opportunity to go beyond the borders of the protest and start smashing windows. How far do we go then with insuring people's rights when it allows crimes to occur and quite possibly be un-consequenced?
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