The windows were broken. The locks to the door glued shut. Graffiti posted in the entryway taunted leftists. When workers arrived to La Page Noire, a radical library, bookstore, and community space in Quebec City on Sunday, they found a mess. During the night, someone — or some people — had vandalized the storefront.
It’s the third time that the space has been attacked in the past two years. Previous attacks have featured graffiti calling for race war. This time, it read “XOXO les gauchos.” The windows on an art studio in the same building were also smashed, both in this attack and in the one before it.
The style of vandalism makes it obvious that the far right is targeting the store, Jeremie, a member of La Page Noire’s collective, told Ricochet. Jeremie is a pseudonym meant to protect the worker’s identity and prevent retaliation from the far right. He spoke to Ricochet representing himself, not La Page Noire.
Jeremie says that if the far right is attacking La Page Noire, it’s because of what the space represents. The store is unequivocally anti-fascist, with anti-racism and anti-fascism explicitly written into the mission of the organization. It’s a collectively run space in Quebec City that has existed for 16 years as an event venue and a place for discussions and conferences. It represents a cultural centre for the left, and far-right groups find that threatening, Jeremie said.
A surge of fascist activity in Quebec City
The attacks against La Page Noire began happening at around the same time as far-right activity in general began to increase in Quebec City. The store moved into its current location in May 2016, a time that Jeremie describes as being right in the middle of an upsurge in fascist activity, triggered by the formation of groups like La Meute and the more explicitly fascist Atalante.
As this was happening, La Page Noire updated its library to include more anti-fascist literature and began hosting conferences about resistance to fascism. The space became a symbol of the organized resistance to increasing racist activity in the city. And the far right took notice.
The attacks against La Page Noire are only one aspect of a broader campaign of intimidation against local anti-fascist and anti-racist activists, Jeremie said. He described Atalante, specifically, as being engaged in targeted attacks against political opponents.
“We know that they rough up people associated with actions by anti-fascist activists. They sometimes attribute those actions to the wrong people, and carry out campaigns of intimidation or violence.”
“These [far-right] groups target La Page Noire because they want to get to the left wing, they want to silence it,” Jeremie said. “They don’t want any ideological opposition to their movement.”
'More solid alliances than ever before'
La Page Noire is located inside a building called Le Lieu, also known as L’Espace Publique. It’s a building that contains art studios, community organizations, and other local services in Quebec City’s central Saint-Roch neighborhood.
“It was one of the first arts centres in Quebec,” said Frederique Lamelin, a member of the Le Lieu collective that runs the property. “So it’s funny to attack an institution like this. It’s really too bad.”
Le Lieu has always stood with La Page Noire after attacks, and refused to cave into the far right’s intimidation campaigns. Lamelin, who stressed that she doesn’t speak for the entire Le Lieu collective, said that the two groups “have a bond that is both professional and, I’d say, affective.”
As it did after previous attacks, Le Lieu has contacted police regarding the most recent one. While a police report is necessary to access insurance funds, Jeremie points out that previous reports have not resulted in any arrests.
When it comes to far-right intimidation campaigns, the groups carrying them out have “been off the hook for most of those actions for the past two years,” Jeremie said. “We don’t think that the police are going to go very far, in terms of deduction.”
Because the police report for this most recent attack had not yet been filed, the Quebec City police’s media relations officers were unable to comment on the matter by press time.
In a shift in strategy in the aftermath of this most recent attack, La Page Noire launched a crowdfunding campaign to repair the centre and implement increased security measures to prevent future vandalism. Hoping to raise $5,000, the crowdfunder marks the first time that La Page Noire has publicly discussed the attacks levelled against it.
In under 48 hours, the crowdfunder had raised over $4,000. While Jeremie expected there to be support, he admits that he was taken aback by how fast it has poured in from across the province.
“With the immense support we’ve had,” Jeremie said,La Page Noire has “come out stronger, with more solid alliances than ever before.”
If the far right’s goal was to isolate and strike fear into anti-fascists, he added, then he “considers their objectives to be thwarted.”
“We’ve never, as far as I can remember, had the chance to invest like this. And we’re really happy that people are coming out and contributing so that we can improve the security of the space.”
“It’s really important for us to stay open, continue our activities, and encourage others to keep speaking out against the dangers of far-right groups, fascist organizations, racist ideology,” Jeremie said. “We want to continue being a space where that can be done.”