Camara's wrongful arrest leads to renewed calls for police body cameras

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By Adam Kovac, CTV News Montreal

MONTREAL -- Montreal's opposition party is renewing calls for the city's police officers to wear body cameras following the arrest and subsequent release of Mamadi Camara.

In a statement, the party criticized the administration of Mayor Valerie Plante, saying the cameras, which the Plante administration has refused to implement, would help avoid “arbitrary arrests” and “restore Montrealers' confidence in police officers and reduce racial profiling.”

"It's time to stop playing games! For two years we've been asking the Plante administration to act on this matter; each time, all we've gotten are excuses,” said Ensemble Montreal leader Lionel Perez in the statement.

“Body cameras have unanimous support; we just have to pull our heads out of the sand and get the cameras out into the field across Montreal.”

In 2019, city hall decided against implementing the cameras, with Projet Montreal officials saying results from $3.4 million pilot project led them to conclude the cameras were ineffective and not worth the cost.

In June, Perez and Cote-des-Neiges-NDG Mayor Sue Montgomery jointly tabled a motion calling for Montreal police to wear portable cameras.

Camara was arrested and held in jail for six days after a police officer was assaulted during a traffic stop and had their firearm stolen. The charges were stayed during a court appearance after evidence emerged that the wrong person had been arrested and Montreal's police chief has since apologized to him. 

RENEWED PROTESTS AGAINST POLICE

The call for body cams came the same day that roughly 100 people gathered in front of the SPVM's downtown headquarters to call for immediate reforms. 

“What we need is to stop having apologies and think about what it means to take action, to stop violence against Black people," said demonstrator Vincent Mousseau. "What happened to Mr. Camara is just a reflection of the reality of what it means to be a Black person in Montreal today."

Community organizer Will Prosper said the city's Black community has been calling for changes in how the city is policed for over a decade.

“We’re asking for change. The police haven’t shown us anything that they want to change themselves. They haven’t shown us for the past 15 years that I’ve been part of these consultations that they've done anything.”

- With files from CTV Montreal's Iman Kassam

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