NEWS
05/24/2018 10:26 EDT | Updated 05/24/2018 11:40 EDT

Right-Wing Group Atalante Denounced By Quebec Journalists For Storming Vice Newsroom

Atalante said it was responding to a report about the increased presence of extreme right-wing groups in Montreal.

Protesters from far-right groups Atalante and Soldiers of Odin demonstrate on the fortification during protests by allied groups La Meute and Storm Alliance in Quebec City, Nov. 25, 2017.
Mathieu Belanger / Reuters
Protesters from far-right groups Atalante and Soldiers of Odin demonstrate on the fortification during protests by allied groups La Meute and Storm Alliance in Quebec City, Nov. 25, 2017.

MONTREAL — Quebec's federation of journalists is denouncing the conduct of a far-right group after a handful of people stormed the Montreal newsroom of Vice Quebec.

A half-dozen members of Atalante gained entry to the media organization's newsroom on Wednesday afternoon in an effort to intimidate journalists.

Vice Quebec said in a story published after the attack the majority of the protesters from the staunchly anti-immigration group were sporting Fleur-de-lis masks.

We do not intend to stop covering that just because there are people who are trying to intimidate us.

It said the Quebec City-based group dumped leaflets and clown noses all over the newsroom and awarded journalist Simon Coutu a trophy for being a "garbage media.''

Atalante said on its Facebook page it was responding to a report last week about the increased presence of extreme right-wing groups this summer in Montreal and the resistance of anti-fascist groups to the situation.

There has been mounting rhetoric in recent months as asylum seekers continue to come into Canada in large numbers through an open stretch of the Quebec-New York border.

Mathieu Belanger / Reuters
Protesters from far-right groups Atalante and Soldiers of Odin leave protests by groups La Meute and Storm Alliance in Quebec City, Nov. 25, 2017.

The group claimed on its social media account that Vice's report last week was stirring up violence in an already tense climate but the media outlet argues the matter is of public interest.

"For us, the extreme right is an important phenomenon that deserves to be covered,'' Vice Quebec editor-in-chief Philippe Gohier said in a telephone interview.

"We do not intend to stop covering that just because there are people who are trying to intimidate us.''

But from the moment (people) intimidate and incite violence against journalists, the messenger is being attacked and that is unacceptable.

Stephane Giroux, president of the Quebec federation of journalists, called the impromptu newsroom visit a direct attack on press freedom and he encouraged reporters to denounce all forms of intimidation.

"A group can adopt any ideology they want, it's not for us to judge,'' Giroux said in an interview. "But from the moment (people) intimidate and incite violence against journalists, the messenger is being attacked and that is unacceptable.''

Giroux suggested Vice file a police complaint but Gohier said the matter would be discussed internally before deciding what to do next.

No one was injured and there was no apparent damage inside the offices.