The winding, cobbled streets of Quebec City might seem like the farthest thing from a war zone, but among them, some are preparing to do battle.
Police seem to be the favoured target; journalists, as well.
But above them all, the target that rioters want most to fight during the G7 Summit is the “State.”
While many of the protesters gathering in Quebec City and Charlevoix bring peaceful concerns about everything from income inequality to environmental protections, others come with another goal entirely — going to war against what they deem a “repressive” government.
“The G7 leaders are getting prepared for war, there is no place of the naïve, we must do the same.”
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Those are the words shared in April by the Réseau de résistance anti-G7, an anti-summit group, in an announcement offering training for those planning on protesting during the G7.
Workshops offered included training on first aid and legal rights, as well as how to use muay thai as self-defence — part of what experts say has become a standard part of preparations for many of the more extreme protesters.
However, those extreme members seem to be in the minority.
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“I think that the hardcore core has shrunk in size while the overall size has grown. So it is simultaneously a larger but less dangerous group of people,” said Michael Kempa, an associate professor with the University of Ottawa specializing in the politics of policing and policing governance.
“The hardened core still gets all that training and are fundamentally committed to doing as much large scale damage as they can, but the total number of people in the black bloc organization that do these things is smaller while their overall numbers are larger.”
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Another way to describe it, he says, is, “they have a lot more bit players these days.”
Those protesters have over the years developed a familiar arsenal of tactics.
Among those is the controversial black bloc — cells of people dressed all in black who hide their faces to avoid prosecution for causing damage to public property.
Summits like the G7 draw black bloc groups like honey draws flies; or perhaps a more apt comparison is water and electricity.
And in Quebec City, the stage may set for a blow up.
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Left-wing protesters are not the only ones expected to take to the streets. Far-right groups are also expected to be in the city to protest immigration and what they say are the negative effects of globalization.
“The potential for a clash is greater than it was in perhaps the last 20 years, in that the alt-right has become more organized in the last 10 years,” Kempa said.
“Whereas they were more diffuse in the crowds before, they are of equal strength and organization to anarchist movements.”
Similar to the tactics like black bloc used by anarchist protesters on the left, the far-right have established tactics of their own that will likely be seen in Quebec City.
“When the alt-right shows up, it’s not just to wave banners,” said Barry Eidlin, an assistant professor at McGill University focusing on class identity, ideology, and politics.
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“They come to intimidate and so if they do show up, I would expect them to do that. That is their repertoire of action, engaging in violence, threats, intimidation against perceived opponents.”
Violent clashes erupted last year between white nationalist groups and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Va., during a “Unite the Right” rally.
The violence culminated in a 20-year-old Ohio man, James Fields Jr., allegedly driving his vehicle into a crowd of counter-protesters.
Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old civil rights activist, was killed in the ramming.
Nineteen other people were injured.