The Quebec Summit... It Was a Gas, Then a Disappearing Act.

Text and Photos: Linda Dawn Hammond
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Masked Avengers©Linda Dawn Hammond 2001

CONTENTS Page: April 20th and 21st, 2001

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Dawn One NOW and...

On April 19th, 2001 I travelled from Montreal to the FTAA Summit protests in Quebec City with the Greens, to participate in the People's Summit forums and document the demonstration as a photographer and journalist.

The last time I'd been to Quebec City on a similar mission was the Reagun Summit in '85, which I'd attended as part of a group of punks/ anarcho/ artists/ musicians. The old Foufounes Electriques crowd.That time there'd been no 'wall' - only a tiny metal restraining fence and a bunch of CIA around the Chateau Frontenac. The CSN collaborated with them and undermined the protest. They left- we didn't. One of US threw little headless doll bodies drenched in pigs' blood over the barrier at the police. An American flag was slashed off its flagpole by a punk wielding a pen knife. A child was conceived as a result of a misbegotten union between the two perpetrators. Some things never change!

THEN- Reagun Demo
©M.Blouin 1985

I met up with Raphaël Thierrin, our International Secretary of the GPC, on the afternoon of the 20th. Together we went off in search of the CMAQ offices (INDY MEDIA), to obtain press passes and post our reports.

Free the Plywood!©Linda Dawn Hammond 2001

Fuck Glass!©Linda Dawn Hammond 2001

April 20th, 2001

As we draw closer to the perimeter, one sees that most businesses just outside the contained area have already adopted a siege mentality in anticipation of the projected violence. Store windows are boarded up- many decorated with pro-environmental/ anti-summit murals. How many are using this as a strategy to guilt away potential looters? Wonder if it worked. Some have left it a bit late due to confusion over which side of the perimeter they would be on. Sorely disappointed to find themselves on the less lucrative side of the fence, they are now hastily catching up by hiring last minute workers. I take photographs of them fortifying stores, equipped with the usual tools of the trade- wood drills, saws, plywood planks and... gas masks. I try to buy one off a surly carpenter, but no deal. MuckDonald's is completely disguised behind flowery plywood murals and green metal grids. At first glance, one could mistaken it for Green headquarters- obviously the intention. Then you notice a tiny plaque on the wall indicating its true identity, and some thoughtful protesters have tagged the wall with a spray painted golden arch, just in case it's missed.

Raphaël in front of disguised Muckdonalds
©Linda Dawn Hammond 2001

It is then that we detect the first acrid whiffs of tear gas floating down from the high town. Gas and chanting voices waft over from where a military helicopter hovers, suspended in position like a malevolent hummingbird. I sidetrack Raphaël away from our original purpose and towards potential mayhem- the siren call of all photographers.

Plummit of the America$
©Linda Dawn Hammond 2001

Raphaël and I turn down a side street and come face to face with our first view of the "wall"- not an overly impressive sight after the massive build-up it's received in the press, not to mention the millions spent constructing and then protecting it. Shiny new chain link encased in concrete, so hastily poured that it's cracking. Approximately 8 feet high and easily scaled, were it not for a group of SQ "officers" guarding it directly behind. The police are well equipped in the latest riot gear- tear gas masks behind helmets, matraques, gas canisters and an ominous projectile weapon in hand. A handful of protesters call taunts across to them and pin flowers and messages between the links. Sirens roar, and pedestrians milling in the street quickly move to the sidewalks as five buses of heavily uniformed police officers are escorted up towards the perimeter. The gas is beginning to accumulate and we are forced to better equip ourselves, covering our stinging faces with makeshift scarves. I create yet another summit fashion statement- purple velvet leg tights serving as a makeshift scarf to protect my face, with matching swim goggles (falsely promised anti-fog) and 1950s moped helmet. (The following day I resort to a sports bra for a mask!) Most people, like me, are not prepared for what comes.

'Cuba is not excluded in our hearts'
©Linda Dawn Hammond 2001

INSERT: The New York Times mentioned this pro-Cuba sign as an indication that the FTAA protesters were inconsistent, in that they evidently support a dictatorship while complaining that their own rights to freedom of speech were being violated at this Summit. I only saw the one sign, reflecting I presume one sign-writer's efforts. Or does one statement suddenly reflect all of our opinions? That's an interesting concept, which could save the World forests of campaign leaflets, were it true.

Our leaders may be surprised to learn that most thinking people clearly recognize the inconsistency between a foreign policy which embraces China as its preferred trading partner, while isolating Cuba for being 'undemocratic'. If the economic gains to be made are high enough, democracy always takes the backburner in US foreign policy.

Considering this, then why should we believe that a so-called democracy clause will be upheld when it comes to trade agreements with any of the 'democratic' states invited to these Summit talks- and by this I include the US and Canada. How many of these heads of States even represent democracies as we speak? How many puppet governments in Central and South America have been covertly placed and maintained in position by the United States over the past decades? Since when are foreign controlled military dictatorships to be considered democracies? These so-called leaders of ours believe that by merely referring to a country as a democracy will be enough to convince the majority of us. Kuwait, for example. DoubleSpeak during the Gulf War referred to America's noble quest to 'restore' democracy to Kuwait. They forgot to mention that Kuwait had never been a democracy to begin with. Only a small percentage of the elite and among them, only males, could exercise the right to vote even before the war began!


Speaking of the uninvited, Castro noted the treatment of the protesters in this walled city, as we attempted to exercise our rights to freedom of speech. Bush was also watching the protests on TV, so I read. And which of them do you think was snickering at us? I didn't notice any pro-Bush graffiti anywhere...

Tricorne©Linda Dawn Hammond 2001

Raphaël and I turn down yet another side street. We have heard rumours that protesters have successfully breached the wall somewhere uphill. Appropriately enough, a young Quebecois man wearing a tricorne and an 18th century French uniform is perched dramatically on the old battlements near the new wall. He is staring down a solitary SQ officer who, stationed opposite on a roof, offers a silhouetted form against the backdrop of luxury hotels which are housing the summit leaders.

SQ Guards Barricade©Linda Dawn Hammond 2001

We continue onwards- drawn by the tantalizing promise of the chemical haze which awaits. Ah, the smell of teargas in the afternoon, as someone inevitably remarked later that day. Greens are known for our healthy lifestyle choices.

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Masked Avengers©Linda Dawn Hammond 2001


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