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Montreal Police Shut Down Critical Mass

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Issue: 18 Section: Canadian News Geography: Quebec Montreal Topics: police

May 28, 2004

Montreal Police Shut Down Critical Mass

criticalmass.jpg
A critical mass in Toronto. Last week, Montreal police forced the bicycle-based protest to disperse.
Police dispersed a monthly bicycle protest in Montreal last week, arresting at least one person and handing out $500 in fines. The "critical mass" consisted of approximately 50 cyclists taking up one lane of a street in Montreal. Using the slogan "we're not blocking traffic, we are traffic", critical masses are a form of grassroots protest that aims to direct critical attention at unsustainable forms of transportation, particularly cars.

According to eyewitnesses, police forced several cyclists from their bicycles, issued fines, and threatened other cyclists with fines if they did not disperse. According to cyclists, this was the first time that Montreal police had forced a critical mass to disperse.

Critical masses occur on the last Friday of every month in at least 17 Canadian cities, in seven provinces (a list is available at www.criticalmassrides.info).

Among Canadian cities, Montreal is known for its support of sustainable transportation. Last September, Montreal was the only Canadian city to turn a significant part of its downtown core into a pedestrian street for several hours for Car-Free Day celebrations. Ste-Catherine, along with several other downtown streets, was transformed into an outdoor festival, with throngs of pedestrians filling space normally occupied by notoriously aggressive Montreal drivers.

» CP: Pedestrians happy, merchants fuming on Montreal's Car-Free Day

» Resist.ca: Cyclists Arrested and Fined at Critical Mass in Montreal

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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