An anti-fascist group whose members assaulted two Global News journalists at a demonstration in Quebec last weekend defended their actions Thursday and threatened more violence against journalists covering future protests in order to, according to the post, “make demonstrations safer” for the group.
In an anonymous statement posted online titled “No face, no case: in defence of smashing corporate media cameras” the group said it wanted to “offer an explanation” for why a Global News camera was smashed and reporter Mike Armstrong was assaulted and pushed down a staircase.
WATCH: Counter-protesters clash with police in Quebec City
“Sometimes, it is necessary to go against what the mainstream considers ‘acceptable,’ to break the law in order to do the ethical thing,” the post read. “Those who mask up to fight the racist far-right have decided, at great personal risk, that they will use any means necessary to shut down fascist organizing.”
The group also accused “corporate media” of regularly handing over “their footage to police without even waiting for a court order”
Global News, however, refuted the accusation.
“Global News does not turn over news video to law enforcement unless and until compelled to do so by court order”, said Ron Waksman, Vice-President of Digital and Editorial Standards and Practices for Global News and Corus Radio. “We have lawfully resisted and appealed such orders when they appear too broad or amount to fishing expeditions. Our journalistic ethics demand we protect sources to the best of our ability, so they will trust us and continue to provide information on important matters of public interest.”
Violence broke out during protests in Quebec City on Sunday when counter-protesters arrived to oppose the far-right group La Meute, which planned to protest the government’s handling of asylum seekers.
WATCH: Quebec City protest
Members of La Meute waited inside a parking garage behind the National Assembly while a counter-protest organized by members of the anti-fascist movement formed outside.
Police declared the counter-protest illegal after some protesters with the black bloc threw bottles and shot fireworks at officers. The black bloc name is given to protesters within a larger demonstration who conceal their identities with dark clothing and masks – making it harder for police to identify them.
Global News national reporter Mike Armstrong, photojournalist Jean-Vincent Verville, videojournalist Dan Spector were covering the clashes between police and protesters when someone assaulted Armstrong and smashed Verville’s camera.
“We are disgusted and outraged by today’s unprovoked attack on a Global News crew covering demonstrations in Quebec City,” Troy Reeb, Senior Vice President of News, Radio and Station Operations with Corus Entertainment, said in a statement. “While we are relieved that our journalists were not seriously hurt, Canadians should be concerned by this threat against the working of a free press. Our team was there to provide independent coverage and transparency as events unfolded – a goal clearly not shared by the thugs who shielded their identities in the commission of violence.”
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, an organization which defends Canada’s free press, denounced the violence and said it was “deeply concerned by the alleged assault.”
“Assaults on media workers erode press freedom rights and undermine the critical role journalists play in strengthening democracy,” the organization said in a statement. “During periods of social unrest, journalists play a crucial role as observers and disseminators of up-to-date news on these public interest issues, and thus must be allowed freedom to conduct their work.”