On Nov. 21, two members of Atalante, a fascist group in Quebec, tried to intimidate a member of La Riposte socialiste in Quebec City at his workplace. This is not the first time this group has gone after left-wing activists in the city. We have a clear message for them: we will not be intimidated. The left and the labour movement must fight the far right every time they rear their ugly heads!
The events occurred when the two members of Atalante showed up at a store where our comrade works. A strange interaction ensued, where the two thugs asked him if “cigarettes kill” and if he wanted them dead. Seeing that our comrade did not flinch, even after he recognized Raphaël Lévesque (known as “Raf Stomper”), one of the main leaders of Atalante, the other said, “You’re supposed to want to beat us up!” They left without buying anything and joined three other members of the group who were waiting outside, throwing our comrade a veiled threat on the way out: “We’re gonna see each other again.”
The fascist vermin had probably identified our comrade as a leftist because of his appearance, and decided to intimidate him. Likely knowing that there were surveillance cameras in the store as well as a witness, they were careful not to do anything that would be openly illegal. But the intention was clear.
Our comrade is not the only left-wing activist to face intimidation from Atalante in Quebec City. In December 2018, a young man was physically attacked in a Quebec City bar by an Atalante sympathizer after being asked if he was an anti-fascist. Another Atalante activist attempted to stab a trans person as recently as last September. Other groups or individuals have probably experienced similar things without it coming to light. This must stop.
Atalante is an ultra-nationalist group that defends, among other things, “remigration,” a disguised way of talking about ethnic cleansing in the form of expelling immigrants. Founded in 2016, this group has surfed on the wave of identitarian nationalism, fuelled by “debates” on “reasonable accommodation”, banning religious symbols and on immigration. But this fascist group also has a history of violence against the left and minorities. They even openly admitted this in 2016, revealing in a statement that the group has members who in the past “have committed criminal acts of aggravated assault causing injury to far-left activists, [as well as] simple assault and drug trafficking.” An article from Montréal Antifasciste published two years ago exposed the Nazi sympathies and violent past of many of its members.
As fascists always do, Atalante claims to be a friend of the people and distributes lunches to the homeless. But this is all smoke and mirrors. They are a violent group who wants to terrorize left-wingers and oppressed minorities. We cannot take their threats lightly.
Raphaël Lévesque, in particular, has a troubled past. He is also the singer of the far-right band Légitime violence (Legitimate Violence), who sing such lyrics as, “Those little effeminate leftists who criticize us will never dare to confront us. We’re going to stab them all.”
Lévesque, who has previously served time in prison for drug trafficking, led a small Atalante demonstration at the VICE Québec offices in 2018, where they made a ruckus to intimidate journalists who had exposed them in an article on the Quebec far right. They have also harassed journalists from CBC and Le Soleil in the past.
Lévesque was acquitted last June of all charges related to his actions at the VICE Québec offices, which included charges of breaking and entering, mischief, intimidation and harassment. The judge ruled that he was merely exercising his right to “freedom of speech”. This example makes it clear that we cannot rely upon the courts and the capitalist state to fight against the far right. The Quebec City police also had no problem collaborating with the far right during one of their protests in 2017, attacking anti-racists who were organizing a counter-demonstration. The state upholds the “freedom” of the far right to spew their hatred of minorities and to threaten those who oppose them.
We cannot let these far-right groups act without consequence. Currently, they are mostly satisfied with threats and calculated actions within the limits of legality, while publicly presenting themselves as good people who want to help the poor. But who knows when they will once again resort to violent attacks against left-wing activists or against racialized or gender minorities? Last September’s transphobic attack shows what they are capable of.
This cannot continue. The problem of the far right in Quebec City has been known for a long time. While the strength of these small groups should not be exaggerated, they should not be taken lightly either. It is high time that the movement mobilizes to stop them in their tracks. The trade unions have enormous resources and the capacity to mobilize, and this must be put to good use in the fight against the far right. Québec solidaire is beginning to have a growing presence in the city, which will surely enrage the identitarian far right, and the party should join this struggle as well. Every time the far right organizes a public gathering, we must mobilize the left and the workers in even greater numbers to send them running. Only a mass mobilization of the unions and left-wing groups can discourage the far right and make them back down.
We call on the unions and every anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-capitalist or left-wing organization to join this struggle and form a united front against the far right in Quebec City. We must publicly denounce and expose each and every act of intimidation by Atalante or other groups of their kind whenever they occur, and mobilize in large numbers whenever they try to crawl out of their miserable hole. If we don’t, they will continue to attack minorities and the left—our comrade is neither the first nor the last. An injury to one is an injury to all!
La Riposte socialiste will not be intimidated. Nothing will stop us from building the forces of Marxism throughout Quebec. Contact the Facebook page of our Quebec chapter if you want to join our struggle!