A small contingent gathered outside the Montreal Police Fraternity for a vigil to commemorate the victims of police brutality and to protest authoritative misconduct, Monday evening.
The Justice for the Victims of Police Killings Coalition organized the event in solidarity with the annual march that takes place in the United States every Oct. 22. The coalition was comprised of the families of the victims of high profile deaths involving municipal, provincial or national police forces.
The speakers emphasized the need to stop racial profiling, excessive force and coercion from police officers while remembering the lives of the victims.
The event also focused on Officer Stefanie Trudeau of the Montreal Police, who has been scrutinized recently for her use of excessive force, a situation that organizer Julie Matson considers to be “the rule, not the exception” in most police forces nationwide.
Matson’s father, Ben, was killed during a confrontation with police in Vancouver, B.C.. According to Matson, her father was beaten following his arrest outside of a bar and a police officer pressed their knee into his neck causing him to die from asphyxiation.
Following a lack of criminal charges, Matson pressed for a public inquest before taking the case to court where she represented herself, and lost. Matson said she believes that wrongful deaths could be avoided by a systemic change in police technology and education.
“There needs to be a different approach,” said Matson. “There needs to be compassionate training because this kind of violence equals power in police officers’ minds.”
Earlier that day, hundreds of protesters marched through the streets of downtown Montreal for the monthly 22nd demonstration in support of a tuition fee freeze.
The Montreal Police declared the march illegal when protesters left Square Victoria because they did not provide the itinerary of their demonstration, therefore violating a municipal bylaw. The group headed toward Place Émilie-Gamelin before a small crowd separated and headed west to St-Elisabeth St. before police officers intervened.
Approximately 30 to 40 people were arrested for violating the road safety code and received $494 tickets, including student journalists from Concordia University.