Officers of colour angered by Montreal Police Brotherhood president's dismissal of system racism, racial profiling

A group of Montreal police officers of colour have written a letter to the president of the Montreal Police Brotherhood to express their "consternation" at his public denials of the existence of systemic racism and racial profiling within the force.

The letter signed by nine racialized officers of the Service de police de la Ville de Montreal (SPVM) - seven men and two women - calls out Yves Francoeur for comments the union head made in interviews earlier this month in Le Journal de Montreal and on Paul Arcand's morning radio show on 98.5 FM.

In their letter, the subject line of which is "Consternation at your media statements regarding systemic racism and racial profiling," the officers wrote that they were "surprised" to hear Francoeur say he doesn't believe either exists within the ranks of the SPVM - especially since the force itself recently acknowledged the existence of systemic racism.

"We have noticed that our Brotherhood does not have the same read on reality as its racialized members," the officers wrote in their letter dated Wednesday, which was the Fete nationale statutory holiday in Quebec.

While the officers wrote that they agree with Francoeur's assertion that there may not be direct parallels between the death of George Floyd and the state of policing in Montreal, they assert that "racism has not spared the SPVM." (Floyd was a Black man killed by a white police officer last month in Minneapolis, sparking widespread protests against police brutality and racial profiling.)

"It may be committed by a minority, but it discredits the entire organization," they said in their letter.

The officers are asking Francoeur to recognize that such problems exist within the force, saying "that is the first step toward finding solutions."

In a response to the officers dated two days later, Francoeur still would not acknowledge that there is systemic racism within the SPVM.

He said that while he and the Brotherhood recognize that there are people within the department who hold racist attitudes, his public comments were intended to defend the vast majority of Montreal police employees, who Franceour said are not racist.

"The Brotherhood represents all our people and I have defended those who are being unjustly sullied," Francoeur wrote, saying that treating the entire police force as "a bloc" is unfair and an example of how some like to scapegoat the force for larger societal problems.

"For us, what is important is fighting racism and discrimination within our ranks," Francoeur said.

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