Today at at exactly 3 p.m., a group of locals, most of whom were only somewhat acquainted with half the rest and had never met the other half, gathered at Place des Arts and began hitting each other with pillows. It was organized by mysterious unknowns at the same time as a similar event in Toronto (CP story on that here) organized by Newmindspace (the people that brought us the metro party in March).
In what I can only guess was a big coincidence, the event coincided with the big open-house launch of Police Week in Montreal. The SPVM, SQ, RCMP, firefighters and Urgences Santé were all there, and brought all the cool stuff from the canine unit to the armored vehicle.
So when a bunch of kids gathered on the steps at Place des Arts with pillows, you can imagine their surprise. At first they did nothing, but monitored the situation (one officer spent quite a while on a cellphone talking to head office a block away). Eventually they started talking to photographers, looking for someone in charge. They harassed one in particular for reasons I couldn’t understand (basically he refused to provide them with identification, what with him not having done anything wrong). But there were no arrests, no injuries, no tickets issued. Everyone just went on their merry way (after picking up most of the feathers they had left behind.
The conversation with the photographer (a student working for The Link at Concordia), which I tried my best to overhear casually, struck a nerve when the officer questioned his media credentials. He asked the photographer how he can trust that the guy is a legitimate journalist.
That’s what bothers me. The same thing happened to me during the metro party. I didn’t have a journalist ID with me, so I got the third degree. But journalists shouldn’t need identification. They shouldn’t need a photo ID issued by their publisher. A journalist is anyone who tries to inform others of what’s going on.
Once you set rules on who can become a journalist, then you take a small step down a slippery slope.
Anyway, back to the pillow fight. There were cameras all over the place, but so far only one set on Flickr and one video on YouTube. If you’re on Facebook you can see the photo page for the event here.
Later in the day I got a call from The Gazette probing me for information about it, so you’ll probably see a photo and caption in tomorrow’s paper.