At 8pm tonight you are cordially invited to the corners of King and James downtown to participate in Steeltown’s first “Casserole” demonstration. For those who haven’t been following recent protests in Quebec, these loud and spontaneous marches have become a nightly tradition in the ongoing struggle with their provincial government. The recipe is simple: bring pots, pans and people, then make noise.

This tactic is drawn from Chilean protests against the brutal Pinochet dictatorship during the 1980s. It began a couple of weeks ago in Quebec as a way of calling people out into the streets for massive nightly marches and quickly exploded in popularity. As the focus of the struggle shifted from tuition increases to repression of protests, these marches have grown into the hundreds of thousands, undeterred by record-setting mass arrests.

Solidarity for the Quebec strike has been spreading lie wildfire, even here in Steeltown. Hamilton also saw another mid-afternoon demo yesterday, much like last week (and likely next week), distributing around a thousand handouts and hanging out workers from the USW 1005, also in the midst of their weekly picketing. Tomorrow there’s a walkout planned at Westmount Secondary. Elsewhere, Calgary is also planning a Casserole tonight and another large solidarity demo is planned next Tuesday in Toronto. In Quebec today, the court challenge of Bill 78 begins today, and negotiations continue between the student associations and the provincial government.

See ya tonight?

Update, 11pm

The Cassarole was a roaring success, with over a hundred people banging pots, pans, cans, buckets and lids. The crowd was huge, with teachers and students, children, retirees, long-time activists and many who I’d never seen at a march before. The cacaphony of noise echoed around downtown for well over an hour as the crowd gathered in Gore Park and marched around the core. We stopped for brief speeches outside the School board headquarters, which was lambasted for closing schools, returned to Gore Park then decided collectively to march once more and eventually dispersed at the Armoury on James North. A number of bike cops followed intently, but there were no confrontations.

Spec Coverage

What was so remarkable about this demonstration was how it sprung up. Everyone came together following a facebook post a few days ago, by one Mac student, which quickly “went viral” across the city. There was an explicit lack of any planning – the crowd assembled, marched and dispersed organically, with people stepping up to fill whatever roles were required (martialing, flyering etc) as the need arose. The brilliance of spontaneous actions like the Cassarole is that they require very little organizational work for impact they create, and how quickly they can erupt in response to rising discontent.