Majiza Philip says Montreal police must be held accountable for their violent actions
After being acquitted in December of assaulting a police officer, 29-year-old Majiza Philip wants justice now more than ever.
During a Machine Gun Kelly concert at the Olympia theatre in 2014, Philip was violently arrested for alleged misconduct against the police. The situation arose while one of Philip’s friends was being arrested at the concert for loitering and excessive drinking. CTV News reported that, when Philip knocked on the window of the police car to tell her friend she had his jacket, she was violently grabbed by an officer and a baton was used to break her arm.
Despite being acquitted, Philip said she believes her case should be reviewed in order to serve as a catalyst for change within the Montreal police department. “I feel like I can walk the streets a lot more comfortably, knowing that I was acquitted, but I am still very fearful of the police because none of them have been held accountable,” she said.
Philip’s arm was badly fractured, and although no longer a physical restriction, she said the trauma from the incident follows her wherever she goes. She is often asked about the seven-inch scar on her arm. “I can’t just say I was assaulted by the police and leave it at that,” Philip said during a press conference on Jan. 24.
Prior to being acquitted, Philip filed a complaint at the end of 2014, but it was eventually dismissed by the Police Ethics Commissioner. According to CBC News, “Section 192 of the Police Act allows officers not to cooperate with the commission,” meaning police can refuse to work with the ethics commission when a complaint is filed.
“We feel that this has to be corrected and has to be prevented,” said Fo Niemi, the executive director of the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR). “Not only for her, but also for every other citizen who may have a legitimate complaint against a police officer.”
Philip and her family emphasized their strength and resilience over the past three years. Philip’s mother, Suzanne Bruneau, said their family is “very fearful but very hopeful with the precedence that Majiza’s case has set.”
Philip and her mother said they believe race played a role in this situation. “It also speaks to us as a black family, to not forget what’s important in our integrity and respect towards our people and our race,” Bruneau added.
Philip said she has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, and has been coping with varying degrees of depression. For months following the incident, she was not able to continue working as a tap dance teacher, and she lost her job at a restaurant.
According to CTV News, “the police ethics commission still says the officers did nothing wrong.” However, if the request to review Philip’s case is denied, CRARR will ask the Quebec minister of public security to revisit the file, CTV reported.
Graphic by Alexa Hawksworth