Monday, March 2, 2009

Remember Riots @ Sir George (Concordia)

Remember when these nuts wrecked a lot of the University's stuff,.throwing things out teh window etc etc......We did have some turbulent times ,.mixed in with all that 'Peace' stuff...................hahahahaha           40 years ago Feb 11th.............You guys are

40 years ago today, rioters trash university computer centre


The biggest student riot in Canadian history had a profound effect on what is now Concordia

Six militant black students at Sir George Williams University, frustrated because a biology professor had given them failing grades they attributed to racism, sparked a protest demonstration that erupted into a riot 40 years ago today.

During the rampage, students trashed the university's computer centre, causing almost $1.5 million in damages.

Ninety-seven people were arrested following the riot, 69 of whom were university students, 55 of them white.

It was the biggest student riot in Canadian history.

The situation on campus began to heat up on Jan. 29, 1969, when students staged a sit-in on the ninth floor of the Henry F. Hall Building demanding greater participation in university management.

The occupation spread through the building, and the students piled grievance upon grievance, many of which had nothing to do with racism.

When authorities called police to evacuate protesters from the building 13 days later, demonstrators smashed into the computer centre and sent millions of computer cards billowing through the air.

Even those who deplore the vandalism agree, in retrospect, that the incident raised black consciousness in Canada and helped make the university, known today as Concordia, a more open and welcoming institution.

"There was no such thing as black history month then, as incredible as that sounds today," said Peter Desbarats, who wrote a play about the riot, The Great White Computer.

"Things in Montreal were volatile. There was student unrest everywhere. The black community was becoming more visible, and was presenting issues that had to be dealt with. It was time for that debate, and the riot marked an advance on a number of different fronts."

Following the riot, students became part of the university's decision-making process and an ombudsman's office was established.

Desbarats's play also proved to be controversial. When it was staged at the Centaur in the spring of 1970, black protesters occupied the theatre.

"The whole concept of a white theatre company doing a play about a black event was quite controversial," Desbarats said.

Robert N. Wilkins, a writer with the Quebec Family History Society, was an undergraduate student when the riot occurred.

"It didn't seem like something out of place at the time, things like this were happening all over the world," he said. "Fighting racism was one thing, but when it became clear that racism was no longer the issue and the students were fighting the establishment, things got out of hand."

An investigation later ruled that there was nothing to substantiate a charge of racism against biology professor Perry Anderson, who was suspended during the two-week crisis.

Rosie Douglas, who led the protest and went on to become prime minister of the Caribbean island nation of Dominica, remained unrepentant for his involvement until his death eight years ago.

"It was a historic event and I'm not ashamed of it and wouldn't do anything different because we meant only good by taking part in the demonstration," he said shortly before he died.

"We had to build the confidence of black people, and blacks and whites had to come together for the common cause. Because racial oppression and degradation was like a constant, and those of us that came from the Caribbean had some more self-confidence, we were not willing to accept any kind of discrimination."

Anne Cools, who was jailed and later pardoned for taking part in a sit-in before the riot, today describes herself as "a recycled radical."

Cools became the first black person to be appointed to the Senate. She defected from the Liberals five years ago to sit in the Red Chamber as a Conservative.



No comments: