'It's a dark day for history': Organizers of Montreal protest against sexual assault target of online threats
Poster for a protest against sexual assault in Montreal / Courtesy of @teenadult on Instagram
MONTREAL -- Organizers of a protest against sexual assault set to be held in Montreal on Sunday say they are reevaluating the event after being targeted by online hate messages.
"In them, we found some of our names, photos, and IP addresses," the organizers, who belong to a collective called C’est assez, said in a statement.
C’est assez was created to denounce sexual and psychological abuse following a wave of anonymous allegations on Instagram in Quebec over the past few weeks.
Multiple Instagram accounts created as a safe space for survivors to anonymously share their stories popped up for various Quebec regions.
Montreal’s, in particular, was a place for people to call out alleged abusers in the city’s music, tattoo, and piercings scenes – though the scope expanded as time progressed. The account, called victims_voices_montreal, is where popular TV personality Maripier Morin was called out, as was Simple Plan’s David Desrosiers.
"We’re taking this situation very seriously," C’est assez said of the threats that began to circulate online before the event. "It’s a dark day for history."
The event, titled Manifestation contre les agressions sexuelles, is currently scheduled to begin at 12 p.m. on Sunday in Montreal’s Parc Lafontaine.
"We need to take a step back and make sure it is truly our voices that will triumph during this day, rather than fear," the statement reads.
Despite the pushback, the group says it won’t be bullied into remaining silent.
"We must continue to confront the stereotypes and prejudices that result in some experiences not being considered legitimate," the statement says. "Collectively, we must continue to fight. This demonstration of hate is just another example of daily violence that we are constantly confronted with, that we are denouncing through this new wave."
The Montreal Instagram account for survivors' stories was deactivated indefinitely after it became difficult to manage, both due to a flood of submissions as well as harsh criticism from some – particularly when stories were posted about alleged abusers who had only been accused by one person.
That being said, accounts for several other Quebec regions – including Quebec City, the Laurentians, Monteregie and Outaouais – remain active, and one for Montreal universities was created just last week.
"We see you and we believe you," the page’s author wrote on its first post. The page has received dozens of submissions so far, including accusations against teachers, teaching assistants, students, and a notary.