25 May 2012


I'm a total fan. One of the more interesting characters to pop up in the ongoing student protests (now increasingly free speech protests — good move giving the movement a shot in the arm, government!) has been Anarchopanda.

This is a philosophy professor who decided that he needed to get out to support the students, but also to make some points about police violence and respecting each other. He has mastered the movements of a mascot (I wonder if the costume forces that?), ambling along in front of a line of riot police, a friendly panda you would look very bad hitting or pepper-spraying. He has even managed to get away with giving a few hugs to the police officers on the line, to the amusement of — well — some of them.

He was interviewed earlier this week on the CBC Radio show The Current. The podcast can be heard here, Anarchopanda starts at about the 13 minute mark. One of the things he shares is about his vulnerability in this role. Inside the suit, breathing is difficult, running more than a very short distance next to impossible and his field of vision about the equivalent of a dime. Vulnerable, he stresses, like the students are also vulnerable before the power of the state, incarnate in the police lines.

Clever, too. After the adoption of the city by-law banning masks at demonstrations, Anarchopanda submitted and removed his mask:

In my previous post I showed two photos of Anarchopanda at the huge demonstration on 22 May. I have to say that everyone wanted to get close to Anarchopanda, and maybe get one of those hugs. Who could blame them?

Anarchopanda might be my personal favourite, but he is also not alone. Earlier this week, the Bananarchist was arrested in a Québec City protest, apparently when he did a "split" in front of the police. We have had a banana in Montréal as well, along with Superman, Batman and a funny and mischievous comedy troupe called the RabbitCrew which dashes through the demonstrations in some creepy-looking white masks, but with bunny ears.

This is all just one aspect of an incredibly dynamic and creative movement that isn't going away anytime soon.

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