Today is Guy Fawkes Day and the masks are out and about already with Anonymous and it’s affiliates protesting worldwide against government surveillance.
As per usual, supporters will be donning the mask in solidarity with their ‘anonymous’ brothers but for the first time the masks will be illegal to wear in Canada.
The ban on masks are not just those affiliated with anonymous, Canada’s House of Commons approved on Wednesday a bill that bans citizens from hiding their faces at all during riots. Bill C-309, pushed by Conservative Blake Richards is a response to last year’s Stanley Cup Riots in Vancouver where masked vandals smashed and lite fire to the city after the team lost to the Boston Bruins.
If caught, violators can face up to ten years in prison if convicted of covering their face during a right or any other “unlawful assembly.” However, the bill does not apply to peaceful protesters at peaceful demonstrations.
Richards stated that the purpose of the bill was not to quash freedom of expression but rather to give police a tool to battle riots that have turned vicious. He said:
“The bottom line is that the perpetrators who are criminalized by this legislation are not lawful protesters. We are not talking about giant pandas, Frosty the Snowman as some members might suggest, or as members of the media talked about, the PETA seal. I am not looking to criminalize pandas, Frosty the Snowman, or Seals. It will ensure that those who come to these events to cause trouble can be brought to justice and discouraged from those kinds of behaviours, so that people who come to a gathering, for whatever peaceful means, whether it be a protest or otherwise, have the ability to do their activities safely and freely.”
There is no doubt that the Canadian riots were violent and jeopardized the health and safety of all those involved.
While the police should have every means possible to protect themselves it should be kept in mind that masks do not light fires, the people wearing them do.
Masks have been used to protect protesters who have carried out brave and justifiable protests, such as Anonymous’ Iberoamerica #OpsCartel Operation against the Mexican drug cartel Los Zetas.
As far as the Guy Fawkes mask goes, Anonymous members might bear in mind that Guy Fawkes intended to install a Catholic dictatorship, not overthrow one.
Do you believe that protestors should retain the right to wear a mask or cover their face even during violent riots or protests? Tell us why or why not in the comments below!