Members of a far-right political group have targeted a Trois-Rivières vegan restaurant, bombarding its premises with posters and making oblique online threats.
According to CBC Montreal, three men showed up at Café Frida in the centre of Trois-Rivières just before closing time last Thursday. The men asked an employee to take a photo of them in front of the building, making the ominous promise that they would “give [the café] some publicity”.
That night, a number of posters for a demonstration in support of Quebec’s recently-passed Bill 21 were put up on around Café Frida’s premises. Bill 21 bans any public employee (such as teachers or bus drivers) from wearing religious symbols, and has been enthusiastically supported by far-right, anti-immigrant groups such as La Meute.
The photo of the men at Café Frida was also posted online, with a caption in French stating that the men in the photo were “guardians of Quebec at the heart of [Trois Rivières’] Antifa neighbourhood”.
(There is, of course, no such thing as an “Antifa neighbourhood” in Trois-Rivières, or other cities in Quebec.)
Another of the men also posting comments apparently encouraging people to visit Café Frida without paying — he stated that Frida would be giving away free drinks to celebrate the Bill 21 demonstration.
According to Vice, the men who visited Café Frida have ties to far-right groups such as Soldiers of Odin, although it doesn’t seem that the threats towards Café Frida were done in the name of any particular group.
There’s no clear reason why Café Frida was targeted by the group — owner Gabrielle Cossette told both CBC and Vice that the restaurant has never hosted political events and generally avoided taking political stances. It seems that the attack was possibly grounded in stereotypes that vegans are inherently left-wing.
Of course, even if Café Frida was overtly left-wing, it wouldn’t make this kind of harassment acceptable, since freedom of association is a right in Canada. Besides, it seems unlikely that Café Frida or any other restaurant would be any kind of official gathering point for anti-fascists, given that Antifa is a decentralized group with no leadership and no kind of membership structure.
A police report was filed after the incident, and Trois-Rivières police say they’re taking the incident seriously.