Graeme Bacque (gbacque@idirect.com)
Thu, 09 Dec 1999 15:44:34 -0500

----------forwarded message----------
Date: Thu, 9 Dec 1999 14:59:30 -0500
From: Bernard Cooper <bcooper@CAM.ORG>
Subject: san: MTL Crowd say NO TO CHARITY & STEAL HOTEL FOOD instead!
Sender: worker-san@lists.tao.ca
Reply-To: san-d@lists.tao.ca

Thursday December 9, 1999

At noon today, the restaurant in Montreal's posh hotel Chateau Champlain
was invaded by a group of commandos that reappropriated buffet food and
brought it outside to a waiting support demo. We then marched along
Saint-Catherine street chanting slogans, eating and giving food to
panhandlers and street people. In all, we were over 150 people, the
commandos arrived at the hotel ahead of the support demonstrators who were
driven in from the city's poor Centre-Sud neighbourhood.

To chants of "la charite ne guerit pas la povrete!" ("charity is no cure
for poverty") and "la solution: revolution!" demonstrators passed around
elegant dishes saying "fruit salad here!... artichoke salad anyone?... " A
lot of the food was wisely gathered in plastic shopping bags by members of
the commando.

Today's action was a success given that we stayed a step ahead of the
police, managing to get in and out of the hotel and not being surrounded by
cops. This is contrast to a similar demo staged two years ago at the Queen
Elizabeth hotel, when the "Commando-bouffe" raided the buffet, got the food
out, but a mass of folks were surrounded by the cops and arrested. This
year's "Commando-bouffe: take 2" was called by the Comite des Sans-emploi
Mtl-centre (Committee of the unemployed of central Mtl).

The pleasant success of the action, covered by a fair number of TV radio
and print media, is a sign that activists have done good work in
anticipating problems that came up at the last food-grab. A clearer
distinction was made between the support demo, which arrived just after the
commando had gotten out of the hotel, and the commando.  The commando
people got to the targeted hotel separately and in several small groups.
People didn't stay near the hotel, but moved into the street towards
Ste-Catherine street, a major downtown artery. Copwatchers and activist
media people were there to record and dissuade any police violence against

Given the near zero-tolerance police reaction to demonstations in this city
lately, this radical action/ demo was also remarkably well pulled off. By
1pm, we had reached the Radio-Canada TV/ radio station in the east-end,
and demonstrators began dispersing northwards into the downtown.

These food-grab actions are done during the Christmas season, when we hear
all this crap about helping the poor and homeless. The poor should just
help themselves, which is what they did today.

Considering that the amount of food reappropriated was relatively minor,
and that it is likely that the Chateau Champlain hotel would need to press
charges (wouldn't that look nice during the holiday season...) the
likelyhood of charges and arrests seems small. However, we shouldn't speak
to soon, we are increasingly living under harsh police-state conditions.
This was a direct attack on private property. We can only wish that actions
become larger, more frequent, more politicised.

We urge people in other places to start organising such simple, but
powerful, actions like today's food-grab. This is direct-action, jam the
system, fuck it up, rob the rich!

-Notre derniere guerre, La guerre sociale!-
-The last war, the class war!-

-Assez, c'est assez, La paix sociale, c'est terminee!-
-Enough is enough, social peace: it's over!-

For info telephone the comite de sans-emploi, (514) 596-7094