Collective Opposed to Police Brutality
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Collective Opposed to Police Brutality (C.O.B.P), also known as Collectif Opposé à la Brutalité Policière, is an autonomous group founded in Montreal in 1995. The organization consists of victims, witnesses, representatives of ethnic communities, marginalized youth, small political groups, the homeless, prostitutes, gay, lesbian, and transgender people, youth, drug users, or ordinary citizens who have questions about police authority.
- 1 History
- 2 Mission statement
- 3 Current Activities
- 4 Mainstream Media IDAPB
- 5 Alternative Media IDAPB
- 6 Organization
- 7 References
- 8 External links
The C.O.B.P was formed in 1995 in response to a protest that occurred on August 19, 1995 when Human Life International (HLI) a Catholic pro-life organization made a visit to Montreal. The anti-HLI demonstration was organized by a coalition of nearly 80 organizations and 2500 people. The protest resulted in numerous arrests. It was in fact two of the protestors who were arrested that decided to create the C.O.B.P.
C.O.B.P’s committee concentrates its efforts in the Montreal region and the collective’s work includes: informing people of their rights, lending support to victims of police brutality by helping them file complaints in the police ethics system and dealing with wrongful accusations. The collective also denounces the harassment, violence, intimidation, arrests and abuse of power by police.
C.O.P.B has a history of particularly rife with police repression due to their hard-line stance against police brutality, as well as their refusal to denounce the varied ways that victims of police violence express their resistance.
Raising Awareness of Rights
The C.O.B.P does regular workshops and discussions on rights and police abuse. Since 1998 the organization has distributed over 35 000 of their booklets entitled ‘Guess what! We’ve got Rights?!’, which lists the rights a person has when dealing with police officers of the SPVM (Service de Police de la Ville de Montreal). The information contained in the booklets is based on Canadian laws as well as on the rules and regulations applying to police forces in Quebec.
C.O.B.P intervenes when people are unaware of their rights and support the necessary steps required in obtaining justice in cases of police brutality. The group encourages victim testimonials to illustrate how people have suffered from police brutality, so other victims know they are not alone. The victim testimonials which are in video or written format can be helpful in providing justice to the victims of police brutality. The testimonials also serve to expand support for the organization in making police brutality a global issue.
Denouncing harassment, violence, intimidation and abuse
Another objective of the organization is to monitor the occurrence of violence. The C.O.B.P launched a copwatch program in 1997. The program provides the necessary knowledge and rights that individuals and groups have while in the presence of police forces. The C.O.B.P copwatch programs intentions are to document police misconduct in the hopes that general awareness will reduce the risk of police violence.
The C.O.B.P offers copwatch workshops where they recommend tips for beginner, intermediates and advanced copwatchers, while also explaining the rights people have when copwatching, as well as what behaviour is considered abusive. These workshops are free to the public and intend to promote rights that are available when confronted with police brutality.,
International Day Against Police Brutality
The International Day Against Police Brutality is the main initiative put forth by the COBP. It was first introduced in 1997 in conjunction with the Black Flags organization in Switzerland. The events take place on March 15 of each year in commemoration of everyone who has suffered at the hands of police brutality. The 2002 Montreal protest resulted in over 350 arrests. This constituted one of the largest mass arrests in Quebec history. The Canadian cities that take part in the IDAPB (International Day Against Police Brutality) demonstrations are Belleville, Calgary, Guelph, Trois-Rivières, Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg and Vancouver. Outside of Canada, IDAPB events have taken place in Argentina, France, Mexico, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States amongst other countries.
The C.O.B.P organizes the protest in Montreal every year. Out of the 1500 protests that take place each year in Montreal, the March Against Police Brutality is the only one in which organizers refuse to inform the police of their demonstration route beforehand. Key events in recent years that have influenced C.O.B.P organizers of the IDAPB protest in Montreal include:
- Shooting of Fredy Villanueva by a Montreal police officer in August 2008.
- Farshad Mohammadi, a 34-year-old homeless man was shot by a Montreal police officer at the downtown Bonaventure metro station on the afternoon of Friday, Jan 6th 2012.
- Shooting of mentally ill Mario Hamel and passerby Patrick Lemoges.
- On February 16, Jean-François Nadreau was killed by a Montreal police officer in an apartment on Nicolet street. His girlfriend had called 911 because he was in crisis.
- 60 people who lost their lives during police interventions in Montreal since 1987.
Mainstream Media IDAPB
When considering the International Day Against Police Brutality, mainstream media offers event based news coverage and editorial content, focusing on arrests, disorders, accounts of the day’s actions. It also provides many stories from primary definers, such as police and municipal officials who often project a seeming and somewhat self-sustaining public consensus which casts the protest as airing a valid concern but as incoherent and misguided in its tactics.,
Alternative Media IDAPB
Alternative coverage tends to be more sympathetic to the aims of the C.O.B.P, with reports on their efforts more often found within activist blogs, social networks, video and picture uploads and both student run and local weekly newspapers. Student run newspapers are viewed as alternative by providing factual reporting otherwise unavailable, as well as furnishing efforts at interpretation indicating an examination of power dynamics. The alternative viewpoint is more often aligned with the goals and objectives of the organization than mainstream accounts.,
The COPB is funded by donations made by its members and anyone who wishes to donate to the cause of police brutality. The organization is not a registered charity within the federal or provincial charity act. The group officials work secretively and do not release personal information to the public. This information remains secretive due to the violent outcomes of many of the organized protests, such as the IDAPB protest, as well as the fear of criminal repercussions against the initiative and its members.
- "5/8/95 - Youth Protest Rightists In Canada". The Militant. 1995-05-08. Retrieved 2013-02-09.
- "COBP". Membres.multimania.fr. Retrieved 2013-02-09.
- "Who we are? | C.O.B.P". Cobp.resist.ca. Retrieved 2013-02-09.
- Day, Angela. "Dignity and solidarity – Briarpatch Magazine". Briarpatchmagazine.com. Retrieved 2013-02-09.
- "Copwatch | C.O.B.P". Cobp.resist.ca. 2011-03-15. Retrieved 2013-02-09.
- Patrick Rafail, "ASYMMETRY IN PROTEST CONTROL? COMPARING PROTEST POLICING PATTERNS IN MONTREAL, TORONTO, AND VANCOUVER, 1998-2004,"Mobilization: An International Quarterly, 15, no. 4 (2010): 489-509, http://mobilization.metapress.com/app/home/contribution.asp?referrer=parent&backto=issue,5,7;journal,5,48;linkingpublicationresults,1:119834,1
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- "Help, not bullets! Vigil against police killings and impunity | C.O.B.P". Cobp.resist.ca. 2012-02-25. Retrieved 2013-02-09.
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- "Police shut down anti-brutality march". The McGill Daily. 2011-03-17. Retrieved 2013-02-09.
- "A Predictably Violent Anti-Brutality Protest | News | The Link". Thelinknewspaper.ca. 2012-03-15. Retrieved 2013-02-09.