On Wednesday night, news broke that a 20-year-old “supporter of the student movement”, Jennifer Pawluck was arrested in Montreal for posting a picture to Instagram that she took of a graffiti wheat paste illustration that showed Montreal’s police commander Ian LafreniÃ¨re with a bloody bullethole in his forehead. According to the CBC, the image was thrown up on a brick wall in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve neighbourhood. And Jennifer Pawluck — not that this even matters — didn’t even draw the anti-cop graphic in the first place.
While Montreal does have a certain set of harsh laws in place designed to fine graffiti artists and the building owners who do not properly deal with graffiti on their buildings, those are laws set in place to keep Canada’s most Euorpean city looking clean and pretty. But the idea that someone who is walking past a controversial graffiti stencil, who then takes out their iPhone, grabs a photo and publishes it to their Instagram account should be arrested is completely ridiculous. It also speaks to the level of fearful internet monitoring that’s clearly going on in Montreal right now.
Montreal’s political climate is heated, to say the least. That’s been clear for a while now, and things became even more intense once Anarchopanda got arrested. However, the standard that this anti-cop Instagram fiasco could set for police intervention, when it comes to social media, is a scary one; especially during times of social unrest and protest.