In wake of violent arrest video, community leaders demand end to police racial profiling

A month after the release of a viral video showing a Montreal police officer kneeling on the neck of a Black teenager, community leaders in Villeray are calling for an end to racial profiling.

“After what we saw in the States, what we saw after the event of George Floyd, I think 'What is in your mind, thinking you can do that again?'” said Maison D'Haiti director Marjorie Villefranche. “It must be forbidden.”

The video of the officer kneeling on a 15-year-old's neck was shot after police were called to a fight near George Vanier High School involving 15 teenagers from two schools.

Villefranche and other leaders, including Quebec solidaire MNA Andres Fontecilla are calling for more social workers in the community and for police reforms to combat racial profiling.

“I denounce the racial profiling behind this police intervent in Villeray and I ask (Public Security Minister Genevieve) Guilbeault and (Minister Responsible for the Fight Against Racism) Benoit Charette for public policy based not on police intervention, but based on social intervention, on prevention,” said Fontecilla.

A spokesperson for Guilbeault said “racial profiling is a practice that concerns us and action has been taken to remedy it” but that the ministry “is still analyzing the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Police Reality tabled on May 25.”

Villefranche said she also wants to see an end to police tactics such as placing a knee on people's necks.

“They have to answer, how come they had that violence against two kids?” she said. “They have to answer that question, they cannot find excuses, they have to answer and be accountable.”

A spokesperson for the SPVM said the protocol is for an investigation to be held any time a police officer uses force. At the time the video first spread, the SPVM defended the officer's actions, saying the boy was handcuffed, searched and what appeared to be a stun gun was found.

Police would not comment on the investigation's status, citing a lawsuit filed by the teen's family.  

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