An Occupy Montreal protester's hand is shown under UV light after being marked by police. (Nina Haigh/Facebook)

Occupy protesters "branded" with UV ink

Montreal police borrow tactic from club bouncers to stop protesters from returning to public square


Justin Elliott
November 30, 2011 11:12PM (UTC)

(UPDATED BELOW)

Occupy protesters in Montreal were dismayed to find they had been marked by police with a special ink that is only visible in UV light after being arrested during a raid of Victoria Square Friday.

Police told CTV Montreal they borrowed the technique from bouncers at clubs and bars and it is meant to mark protesters who might return to the square.

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But they apparently weren't so forthcoming with at least one protester.

"They wrote on my hand with a permanent marker and then after I felt something pointy and metallic scraping across my skin," wrote protester Nina Haigh on Facebook, continuing:

I immediately asked "What are you doing" and they simply said we wrote on you with a pen and showed me a bunch of various pens in her hand.

I didn't argue about it and I was unable to look at my hands as they were tied behind my back with zipties. As soon as I was released I looked at my hands and there was no ink on them from a pen. ...

This morning we tested my hands under a black light and sure enough there was a number 2! The freaky thing is this is IN my skin, washing my hands and scrubbing with abrasives will not get this off.... perhaps in several months of my skin cells renewing themselves if will eventually fade.

What ever ink that is in there is irritating my skin slightly and its a very terrible feeling that they put a substance in my body with out my consent and then later lied about it.

Here's the picture of Haigh's hand under normal light:

The picture of her hands under UV light is at the top of this post.

I've asked the Montreal police for comment on all this, and I'll update this post if I hear back.

There are reports of police using invisible ink to mark objects as part of campaigns against burglary and underage drinking. But this seems to be the first time UV ink has been used to mark people during the Occupy movement. Have any experience with this ink? Email me.

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UPDATE: So what did being marked with the UV ink feel like?

"It felt very similar to some one drawing on you with a nail," Haigh tells me. "It really wasn't a pleasant feeling and I passed a good 24 hours wondering what they had done to me before my friends and I figured it out. I did get a rash from the ink for a few days and my hand was rather sensitive."

She adds the marking faded after four days, "but I still feel my body was violated."

UPDATE II: This tattoo website suggests that UV ink has a history of health risks.


Justin Elliott

Justin Elliott is a reporter for ProPublica. You can follow him on Twitter @ElliottJustin

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