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POLICE USE AGENTS PROVOCATEURS AT PROTEST

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) has voiced concern that police disguising themselves as protesters at a North American leaders' summit acted like agents provocateurs by provoking violence from within the crowd.

According to local news reports, about 1,200 protesters were in the small resort town of Montebello, Quebec, near the capital Ottawa, as Prime Minister Stephen Harper met with U.S. President George W. Bush and Mexican President Felipe Calderon at a two-day summit to discuss trade and security across the continent.

A video of the demonstration posted on YouTube shows three men with bandanas across their faces, at least one with a large rock in his hand, taunting union members. In the video, the president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, confronts the trio - who stand out among the peaceful protesters - demanding they throw down the rocks, unmask and identify themselves as cops.

The men push towards the riot police line and are immediately pushed to the ground, handcuffed and escorted away. Photographs taken by another protester show the men on the ground wearing boots with the same emblem as the officers who are arresting them.

Authorities initially denied claims from protesters that officers had infiltrated their ranks but later acknowledged the three men were police officers. The police say their men were just trying to pinpoint protesters who were not peacefully demonstrating in Montebello.

"The actions of these police officers suggest that they were there not to observe, but to instigate violence," says CJFE. "CJFE is concerned that these police tactics subvert the legitimate rights of Canadians to engage in peaceful protest. Not only did they potentially put peaceful protesters at risk, but they also undermined the message of the protest itself."

The protesters' main focus was the Security and Prosperity Partnership agreement that was to be discussed among the North American leaders. They say negotiations about the agreement are secretive and undemocratic, and the treaty itself erodes Canada's control over its natural resources, security and defence.

Visit these links:
- CJFE: http://www.cjfe.org
- YouTube video of cops in disguise: http://tinyurl.com/2dzk7q
- CTV: http://tinyurl.com/yqmead
- Discussion forum on Rabble.ca: http://tinyurl.com/36pne7
(28 August 2007)

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