The events unfolded at the 3rd summit of the Americas is more reminiscent of a war zone, rather than the intended peaceful protests. In a lot of instances, transgressive actions were mistaken for provocative actions, leading police to deploy repressive and dominating tactics using less than lethal force, such as tear gas, rubber bullets, pepper sprays, along with others. Protests are not spontaneous events arising from leisure time, but rather, in most events, they’re a form of resistance against various ideologies. The root of protests are ingrained in societal discontent by distinct groups. This discontent directs individuals to dissent and, in some cases, resist the sovereign by taking collective action in the form of movements that, then, leads to protests (Starr, Fernandez, & Scholl, 2011). Therefore, in any given protest, the themes of resistance and power are necessary;resistance is necessary in order for police to use their power via security operations during events of dissent.
There are numerous forms of political power involved in the event that took place in Quebec City. The state must establish hegemony through governing a society, largely with the consent of the masses. In that manner, if consent declines, the state resorts to criminalization to deal with such crisis; law, then, becomes a method in which the status quo is legitimized and brings forth social change in accordance to the law. In this way, the protestors that gathered at the 3rd summit of the Americas went outside of the system and thus coercive power had be used, to produce or maintain docile individuals, but rather it characterized domination. This state-influenced power suggests that anything which disrupts the social order is important to have in cases of mass dissent insofar as it maintains moral conscience of the society(Hall, Critcher, Jefferson, Clarke, & Roberts, 1978). The representation of the event by the media portrayed the class relations as maintaining social order but also institutions. Furthermore, the protest was seen as a class struggle between the dissenters and law enforcement in a conflict society where policing the event became a social construct through implementations of peace and enforcement in the hopes of creating a better society. Historically as well, pacification was used in class relations in the Canadian context as a political discourse, justified through forms of repression in the hopes of creating peace. Pacification was used to such a degree that power was seen as possessed by some, not regarding good dictates of morality, but rather as a way of justifying the state (Neocleous, 2008). Hence, the security of society is kept safe and territories, where that power is put to use in order to preserve society, are maintained.
With regards to how the actual order was policed, coercive measures were taken in many cases that could have been avoidable.It is suggested that since the 80s and 90s, negotiated management increased that recognized the right of protestors, increase their tolerance and a minimal use of force, hence using a soft approach to dissent (Hall & De Lint, 2010). For example, other than the 7000 police officers present, the additional 680 armed forces members were unnecessary. With that said, their techniques of security were poor to the extent there were inadequate forms of undocumented arrests all over the protest zones. Individuals were arrested pre-emptively without a reason. The local Orsainville jail had to be cleared of its inmates in order to fit the 463 individuals that were arrested, many of whom pre-emptively.
The identities of the demonstrators changed how policing methods were going to be deployed. Even attire, as evident by the Black Bloc’s all black apparel, is a factor that is considered by the police. In this matter, they are portrayed at outside the norm of docile individuals in society, labeling them as a threat and, thus, deploying paramilitary style tactics against them. Such events can further influence subsequent protests and widen the trust between police and protestors. To deal with transgressive dissenters, juridical power, as a mechanism, had been put in place for the concentration of authority. Moreover, this form of power is backed by law to work as a form of control because police were given discretionary power to handle protest situations differently. The actions of the police influenced the actions of the protestors and vice versa. The paramilitary style use of tactics by the police provoked disruption, evident by the rebellious actions of the Black-Bloc to shake fences, throw stones and resist. By virtue, power was used as a tool to dominate, but since power was evidently present, resistance was simultaneously present.
Foucault, Michel. 2009. Security, Territory, Population. Lectures at the Collège de France, 1977-1978. New York: Picador. Pp. 333-358.
Hall, Alen and Willem De Lint. 2010. Policing Labour in Canada. Policing and Society, Vol 13, Pp. 220-234.
Hall, Stuart, Chas Critcher, Tony Jefferson, John N. Clarke, and Brian Roberts. 1978. “Crime, Law and the State.” Pp. 181-217 in Policing the Crisis: Mugging, the State and Law and Order. London: Macmillan.
Neocleous, Mark. 2008. “’The Supreme Concept of Bourgeois Society’: Liberalism and the Technique of Security.” Pp. 11-38 in Critique of Security. Montreal/Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press.
Starr, Amory, Luis Fernandez and Christian Scholl. 2011. “What is Going On?” Pp. 1-18 in Shutting Down the Streets: Political Violence and Social Control in the Global Era. New York: New York University Press.