Protesters gather against injustice

The International Day Against Police Brutality protest highlighted concerns about police accountability and mistreatment of detainees

On March 10, the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations hosted an event in Montreal’s Little Burgundy neighbourhood to gather victims of crime, city officials, and community groups to discuss crime prevention. The event began with organizers acknowledging the pain and suffering felt by attendees in the room and hoping that they could start a conversation on how to overcome violence in the area. 

On March 15, the International Day Against Police Brutality, over 100 demonstrators marched through the streets of NDG to protest police brutality. The protest aimed to highlight brutality throughout the justice system, not just among police officers. Demonstrators demanded accountability for the individuals responsible for upholding systemic racism.

The demonstration was organized by the Collectif opposé à la brutalité policière (COBP), who founded International Day Against Police Brutality in 1997.

The protest also highlighted the case of Nicous D’Andre Spring, a 21-year-old Black man who died during an altercation with police while illegally detained at Bordeaux prison. Quebec’s chief coroner has ordered a public inquiry into Spring’s death, and provincial police opened a criminal investigation into the incident, which resulted in the suspension of a correctional officer and a supervisor.  

Alain Babineau, director of The Red Coalition, a group in Montreal that advocates for social justice issues, shared his perspective on the progress made in addressing racial profiling and police brutality. “Protests are good, but there has to be some type of objective behind it. They raise awareness, but it has to be sustained. Otherwise, the powers that be, the politicians, go along with the popular [sentiment]. If they see there is merit in supporting your claim or what it is that you’re pushing forward, then they’ll go along with it.” 

Babineau stressed the importance of treating people with respect and dignity, rather than just focusing on reconciliation efforts. 

Earlier this year, the Quebec Police Ethics Committee ruled that two Montreal police officers, Dominique Gagné and Mathieu Paré, knowingly omitted key information about David Tshiteya Kalubi’s medical condition before his death in their custody in 2017. The officers failed to document Kalubi’s sickle cell anemia on the inmate control sheet, a condition he took medication for. The committee found the officers’ omission amounted to negligent and careless behaviour. 

However, the Quebec Crown Prosecutor’s Office decided not to charge anyone in connection with Kalubi’s death. The case has raised questions about police accountability and the treatment of Black individuals in police custody. 

Quebec’s Crown Prosecutor’s Office has announced that the police officers who shot and killed Jean René Junior Olivier in Repentigny in August 2021 will not face criminal charges. The Crown’s decision was based on an analysis of evidence, including video footage from one of the paramedics at the scene. The incident sparked outrage in Repentigny’s Black community against racial profiling by law enforcement. 

The march served as a reminder that the fight against police brutality is ongoing and that it is the responsibility of everyone to demand justice and accountability from “les brutes en uniformes,” as one masked organizer called police. The COBP and other organizations have been fighting for decades to end racial profiling and violence by law enforcement, and they vow to continue until significant changes are made. 

Babineau highlighted the need for sustained activism to bring about real change.

“Apologies are apologies are apologies,” he said. “If it sort of atoned for evil that you did, great. It’s not a licence for the things you’re about to do.”


The Update // New database for MMIWG2S, half a billion dollars for engineers, and Ukraine, a year later

The Update is a bit-sized news podcast show where you can get a full update on what is going on at Concordia, and around Montreal. Simply tune-in during your morning commute to be informed!

Welcome to The Update. A bi-weekly news podcast researched, produced and created by The Concordian team.

In this episode, a vigil commemorating Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Montreal sees first ever official database made for cases in Quebec.

The Montreal community took to the streets to condemn the unjust treatment and death of Nicous D’André Spring while he was illegally detained in Bordeaux Prison.

The Government of Canada invest $497 million into a team of Concordia engineers to create cheap and sustainable CO2 capturing and recycling technology.

News editor Marieke Glorieux-Stryckman dives into the Montreal Ukrainian community’s well-being one year after the war began.

Général Roméo Dallaire, who served the United-Nation during the Rwanda genocide, visited Concordia’s Journalism Department to discuss the role of media in conflicts.

Reporter Tristan McKenna reports on toll the Turkey/Syria earthquake has on Concordia students.

Produced by Cedric Gallant

Music by Saro Hartounian

Graphic by Carleen Loney

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit


Montrealers gather to mourn the life and demand justice for Ronny Kay

communities came together in support of Kay’s family as they demand official condolences and explanations for his death

Protesters gathered at Sun Yat-Sen Park for a vigil and march in support of the family of Ronny Kay, a 38-year-old man who was killed during a SPVM intervention on Sept. 17 in Nun’s Island. 

According to his family and recent reports, police were called to Kay’s home while he was in an argument with his ex-girlfriend. Police were responding to reports of a suspected firearm. His family says he was in emotional distress during the incident, allegedly getting shot several times by a police officer before being taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead upon arrival. 

The Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI) is currently investigating the circumstances of Kay’s death.

Kay’s family is asking the BEI, Quebec’s Minister of Public Security, the SPVM and Mayor Valérie Plante for psychosocial services and official condolences.

The march was organized by the ad-hoc committee ‘Justice for Ronny Kay’ formed to support Kay’s family in their search for answers. People visited to pay their respects including local community organizers, and members of the Montreal Chinese community, in which Kay was involved, according to his family.

One of Kay’s siblings, Michelle Kay, expressed her frustration by the lack of transparency surrounding the case. The explanation regarding the death of Ronny Kay still remains unclear after two months. 

“The BEI tells us [to] ‘just wait, it can be another six months, seven months’ but for us to mourn seven months without understanding why is simply not normal,” Kay said.

Kay also mentioned how waiting for answers has added much difficulty to the family’s grief, and that she is saddened that the SPVM and other Montreal officials are not sending condolences regarding her brother’s death. 

“We are a family that contributes to this society, I speak French, Ronny spoke French, we grew up here, we were all born here,” she said. “And yet, this story of a Montreal citizen was barely covered by the media, it’s unbelievable.”

This case comes at a time when racial profiling and the mistreatment of people of colour by the Quebec police has been gaining a lot of attention.

Director Racial Profiling & Public Safety for the Red Coalition Alain Babineau said Kay’s story is concerning to the Coalition, a group who works on eliminating racial profiling and systemic racism in Canada. 

“The other thing that preoccupies us a lot is the way that Ronny Kay’s mother was treated a few weeks after his death,” said Babineau.

According to the Kay family, their mother was picking up a prescription a few weeks after Kay’s death when she got into an argument at the store. The police were called, who proceeded to handcuff her and charge her with a criminal offense of “disturbing the peace.”

“For us this is an aberration because the police are victimizing a victim,” said Babineau. “This mother just lost her child, it’s a terrible trauma, she’s under medication and they arrested her, handcuffed her and put criminal charges on her, it’s very serious.”

Babineau said the coalition talked to the Kay family and will most likely be helping them through the process. For him, the way the family has been treated ever since Kay’s death is unacceptable.

“You can’t do that, you can’t victimize a family who are already victims,” said Babineau. “You have to be human and understand that what they lived through is appalling.”

When asked to comment on the case, the SPVM said they would not make any further comments in order to avoid influencing the BEI’s investigation.


Pro-democracy protests turn deadly in the Kingdom of Eswatini

At least 29 killed, hundreds wounded in the nation’s fight against monarchy

Since June 2021, the southern African nation of Eswatini has been fighting for democracy and economic justice while King Mswati III deploys lethal force against protesters. Having been in power since 1986, the king refuses to step down as the country experiences one of the most violent unrests in its history.

Officially known as Swaziland until 2018, the citizens of Africa’s last absolute monarchy are rallying for major government reforms. These include a democratic selection process of Eswatini’s prime minister and the release of two members of Parliament, Mduduzi Bacede Mabuza and Mthandeni Dube, who were detained when the protests began.

The Swazi police have fatally shot over 29 demonstrators this year, seized personal belongings, and brutally interrogated journalists in an attempt to silence the pro-democratic movement, according to Swazi journalist Cebelihle Mbuyisa. The protesters also responded with violence, looting grocery stores and committing arson in the country’s two largest cities.

Tracey Dlamini, a 19-year-old university student in the capital Mbabane, described the gravity of the unrest to The Concordian, having witnessed these events unfold first-hand.

“I was really shocked, I’ve never seen anything like this in Swaziland in my entire life,” she explained. “The police were shooting the whole night, using tear gas, throwing protesters in vans like they were animals. I couldn’t even sleep hearing those gunshots. […] They shot even those who didn’t carry a weapon: small kids, mothers, fathers — everyone. All because we want one man to step down.”

On Oct. 21, the kingdom shut down internet access nationwide amid the new wave of protests, while also restricting movement under the current curfew from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. Mswati III continues to rule with an iron grip, attempting to monopolize Eswatini’s economy for the royalty.

“King Mswati is the law himself, he can’t be arrested. People are dying of hunger, some regions have no water, […] and if you start a business and it’s successful, then the king will take it from you. He sees you as competition if you try to become rich,” Dlamini added.

In 2019, the Swazi monarch purchased 19 luxury Rolls-Royce cars for his 15 wives, which amounted to $30 million. While Mswati III continues his lavish lifestyle, 63 per cent of Swazis live under the poverty line with an alarming 41 percent of the population being unemployed.

The king himself referred to the protests as “satanic,” saying they are turning the country backwards. Still, the manifestations show no signs of slowing down, notably among high school and university students, while the path towards democracy remains complex for Eswatini.

“We’re fighting for a democracy that has been deemed futile in so many African countries, like the neighbouring Lesotho,” said Georgia*, a Concordia student who grew up in Swaziland. “We need a system for ourselves which encompasses both the current system and a somewhat democratic one, and it’s intangible right now since emotions are high.”

The student added that Eswatini’s humanitarian crises have often been overlooked by the United Nations and the West, causing the landlocked country of 1.2 million people to deal with rampant poverty on its own.

“We need external forces to help, we need more awareness from the western world. They are the only ones who can actually bring democracy to reality in a country such as ours,” said Georgia.

Earlier in June, Canada expressed its commitment to strengthen democratic institutions throughout the world at the G7 Summit in Cornwall, England. However, the Trudeau government has yet to address Eswatini’s ongoing violence or provide support for the fellow Commonwealth member.

*To protect the subject’s identity, we are using their preferred pseudonym.


Graphic by Lily Cowper


Protesters call for defunding of police after fatal shooting of Sheffield Matthews

Push for funding of mental health services after SPVM kills another Black man


Protesters held a demonstration on Nov. 7 seeking justice for Sheffield Matthews, a Black man who was fatally shot last week by police in Montreal. The protest called for the defunding of police and the reallocation of funds to mental health intervention teams that are trained to de-escalate people in crisis.

Black Lives Matter and the Defund the Police Coalition organized the rally that took place in Trenholme Park in the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce neighbourhood.

Protestor at the Defund the Police protest sign points to the fact police were called because Sheffield Matthews was in distress

“I’ve had enough. I’m angered, I’m triggered, I’m just sad and annoyed that this keeps happening right in our backyards,” Antonia Haywood, a protester at the demonstration, told The Concordian. “When there’s a crisis involved, I don’t think the police should be there … we need people trained in crisis intervention and mental health to be present in times like these.”

Early last Thursday morning, police responded to a call of a man in crisis in NDG. When they arrived on scene, they reported seeing a Black man holding a knife near a civilian car. When the man came towards their squad car, police alleged that the man lunged at them with the knife and they shot him seven times, killing him.

Sue Montgomery, mayor of the borough Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, said she’s attending the protest in solidarity with Black Lives Matter.

“It’s a tragic, senseless loss of life and I’m here to stand side by side with the Black community,” said Montgomery. “It’s clear there’s systemic racism in this city.”

Julien Lévesque, a spokesperson for the SPVM, said he had no comment on the killing of Matthews or response to the calls by protestors to defund the police. He said he supports the right for demonstrators to stage a protest, as long as it’s done safely.

Remy Gibbs, whose uncle was shot and killed by police two years ago in the same neighbourhood, spoke to the crowd in the park. Gibbs contrasted the killing of Matthews to the police’s treatment of Carl Girouard.

Girouard, who’s white, slayed two people and injured five with a sword in Quebec City this past Halloween. He was talked down and left unharmed by police.

Protestor wore an earring with the acronym ACAB, which stands for “All Cops are Bastards”

“Sheffield Matthews supposedly had a knife and was still murdered after he didn’t kill anybody [which] is a sign that systemic racism does exist,” said Gibbs, megaphone in hand.

Hundreds of people cheered after each speech was made. Demonstrators chanted “No justice no peace, defund the police!” and “Black lives matter! Black lives matter!”

After the speakers finished, the organizers led the protest to the streets as the chants carried on. Protesters banged pots, others whistled, and many held up their fists as they blocked traffic from passing through. The protesters marched to the corner of Côte-Saint-Luc Road and West Hill Avenue where the shooting took place.

Several people placed bouquets of flowers at the spot where Matthews was killed. One man said he picked flowers from his garden.

“It’s Montreal standing up to injustice,” Egbert Gaye told The Concordian. Gaye is the founder of Community Contact, a newspaper that covers Black and Caribbean issues in Quebec.

“Police have a weak point in dealing with two things: Black people and mental health,” said Gaye.

The Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI), an internal provincial organization that conducts independent investigations when someone is seriously injured or shot by police, is still investigating the death.


Photographs by Fenn Mayes

Concordia Student Union News

Abolition or reform? A new CSU position

CSU’s police brutality position is controversial in its wording

On Oct. 28, the CSU’s second meeting of the month discussed Arts and Science Representative Shivaane Subash’s police brutality position. In hopes of being added to the CSU’s Positions Book, the position highlights how the CSU does not support the SPVM in its treatment of Black and Indigenous students.

Two distinct positions were recognizable in the discussions: one for abolition, and one against. This doesn’t mean that any parties were against taking a position; rather, they had different approaches to the position.

Subash wrote in the position, “The CSU recognizes its racially diverse student population and how widely reported racial profiling experiences by the SPVM affects their educational experience. Thus, it is vital to advocate for their safety and security to ensure a safe, enriching university environment.”

This universal statement is one that most CSU representatives agree with. However, there are a handful of representatives that have issues with the last clause in the position.

The section originally read, “CSU stands in favour with defunding and abolishing the SVPM, so as to redirect those financial resources to areas such as healthcare, mental health, housing, education, jobs, and restorative-justice models that better suit the needs of our community.” After the discussion, the section of the quote in italics was removed.

Subash explained that she “looked at the Positions Book and realized there was just a small section on police brutality.”

As one of the only remaining women of colour in the CSU now that many have stepped down, she knew that someone needed to take a stand, and change the CSU’s position on these issues.

Subash is aware that abolishing and defunding the police is a controversial idea, and was expecting push back from fellow council members.

“This is natural, there was pushback and confusion from the general public and different leaders as well, so it was expected by everyone,” she said.

Despite this, she said it’s still exhausting to deal with this type of push back.

“It’s mostly tiring … especially when everyone is learning about concepts such as police brutality. They’re not new concepts, but they’re penetrating the public more nowadays.”

She stood by her ideas and statement, based on her own personal experience as a minority.

“A lot of people are against it because the police have always been there as an institution that we’ve had for ages,” she said.

So people are so used to that police presence, they don’t want to consider abolishing/ defunding the police.”

However, this isn’t the section that Tzvi Hersh Filler, a member of the CSU Council of Representatives, had issues with, but rather the word “abolish.”’

In Filler’s opinion, “In this case, seeing as [the police] is an essential service, scrapping it doesn’t make sense. Obviously, you have to fix the accountability issues.” He argues that the word “abolish” will create a sour relationship with the SPVM, which can lead to bigger issues.

Filler compares the situation to a similar one that occurred in New York City, where a group of Orthodox Jews were being harassed with bricks. According to Filler, the police failed to handle the situation properly.

He said, “The fact that the police were unable to properly handle [the situation], came down to the fact that the police felt like [the mayor] was out to abolish them, and that created this atmosphere where they couldn’t do their jobs.”

James Hanna, a Gina Cody councillor at the CSU is of the same opinion as Filler. Both agree that the SPVM is extremely problematic and needs to be fixed. However, these two don’t see how abolition is the key to this.

He said, “Without fixing society itself; without lowering the racism score, the level of [racism in] the police also won’t change because it’s the same pool of candidates, it’s still the subset of that same population, unless you radically change the population.”

As of now, the position’s 12.8 section stands as such: “CSU stands in favour with defunding and abolishing the SVPM.”


Looking to anarchism for a police free world

How we can embrace community-driven approaches to safety

Since the eruption of international protests in response to the murder of Black man George Floyd at the hands of the police, the discussion of either defunding or abolishing police forces has taken centre stage. Yet, many still have concerns as to what a world with a radically diminished police presence would actually look like.

While there is no simple answer to the question of what abolishing or defunding the police would consist of, there are a lot of helpful tools we can take from anarchist mentalities that show how to build community-driven approaches to safety. It all starts with an acknowledgement that government institutions do not work for the benefit of marginalized people. With that, communities should keep an eye out for each other as much as possible and not rely on those institutions, because our reliance gives them power.

One main tenet of anarchism is the concept of mutual aid. Simply put, mutual aid is the practice of voluntarily exchanging goods and services for overall community benefit. The thrust of mutual aid efforts center on the idea that when communities can pull together to provide for themselves, they are less dependent on often oppressive institutions and become more tightly knit.

Mutual aid has become somewhat of a buzzword since the COVID-19 outbreak— and for good reason. In countless cities around the world, neighbours have come together in order to share extra food and supplies, give social support, offer delivery services, and more. One Facebook group for Montreal mutual aid now has over 17,000 members, where posters continue to help others who are sick or out of work. However, in the past week, many of the posts have pivoted to sharing resources for how to help Black people and protesters in the Montreal community.

It would be difficult to deny that mutual aid is necessary for people thrust into precarity due to a global pandemic; however, for Black communities, mutual aid has been a lifeline for decades. For example, in the 1960s, The Black Panther Party offered a free breakfast program to children in their community. These kids were overlooked by the government as they were redlined and ghettoed into impoverished neighbourhoods, often going hungry during the school day. The Panthers saw the hunger and inequality that was forced upon their community by an actively white supremacist government, and took power into their own hands. The breakfast program was a major success, but a few years after it was enacted, the FBI cracked down due to the government’s phoney labelling of the Panthers as a hate group. Ironically, the U.S. federal government ended up implementing their own school breakfast program just a few years later.

The turn away from reliance on government can be applied to more than just food programs and facemasks—we can look to these anarchist concepts for guidance on what a world would look like without institutionalized police.

Another useful concept within mutual aid is community self-defense— the notion that civilians should be in charge of their own safety rather than relying on cops. For many communities, most notably Black and Indigenous people, the police are a blatantly violent and aggressive force, who do more intimidating than protecting. Community self-defense may answer the following question: ‘when the cops are the ones committing the crimes, who are you supposed to call?’

It is not that the policing system is broken—  it was never designed to work for the benefit of marginalized people. Across Canada, the demographic makeup of police departments are overwhelmingly more homogenous than the cities they’re sworn to protect. This disparity can lead to not only cultural misunderstandings but also higher rates of violence due to implicit racial bias. With this in mind, it only makes sense that those who protect a community should be from the community itself.

Community self-defense can come in many different forms. This could look like neighbourhood walking-patrols, trained social workers countering catcalling, watchdog groups monitoring white supremacists, sexual assault survivor networks, etc. The goal is to reroute funding that previously went towards police into groups that will support communities at the civilian level. Any group with power is susceptible to corruption, and there’s always the chance that people will join for nefarious reasons. However, those within a community have a vested interest in the betterment and safety of their group, as well as an added level of empathy towards those they’re protecting. This is because they won’t just see the offenders as criminals, but also as friends and neighbours.

The shift to a less police-focused state would not be simple, and it would likely require a lot more action on the civilian level. Yet, with a shift towards community-building in marginalized areas, it is not an impossible task. The status quo is structurally failing our Black neighbours and that should be enough to have everyone question the system as it is.

Graphic by @sundaeghost

The Age of Slacktivism: BLM Advocacy Beyond Keyboard Crusading

Don’t deny it: whenever an atrocity like George Floyd’s death occurs, many of us flee to our social media.

We’ve been taught and told by others that change can be incited from our fingertips. We see the abundance of Black Lives Matter posts being shared and if we don’t follow the herd by doing the same, it gives off the impression that we aren’t true activists. There is a false sense of commitment to the cause, an instant gratification that comes with sharing a Martin Luther-King Jr. quote or changing our twitter handle to #BLM.

Slacktivism is the notion that people can advocate for a certain issue with minimal effort and involvement, while still believing they are making a difference. We might be locked to our couches right now, but that doesn’t mean we have to succumb to a slacktivist approach.

Sharing endless quotes, tweets and Facebook posts is like pouring a glass of water on a ravaging house fire and hoping it does something significant. It’s the bare minimum and yet, there is a certain pat-on-the-back feeling we get from doing it. Long before Floyd’s death many have abused this approach, including myself. This approach allows us to be involved in the conversation from a safe distance. Many of us want to do more, but just don’t know where to begin.

As a white anthropology student, I have been introduced to a multitude of advocacy approaches that I had never considered in the past. My own positionality has led me to seek out these approaches, knowing that while I cannot experience the pain of racism firsthand, I can use my voice to prevent these injustices from being silenced.

Last year, one of my professors launched into a 40-minute improvised lecture about how useless slacktivism is, a term many of us surprisingly hadn’t heard before. The faces around the room ranged from anger to disappointment to outright shame. “Do you really think these short-lived sentiments are going to start a revolution?” my professor asked. Sure, the act of sharing posts and signing petitions has good intentions, but it only goes so far.

In an article titled “How to take activism beyond your keyboard,” author Maggie Zhou writes, “Don’t fall into complacency and give yourself smug pats on the back … acts of allyship aren’t meant to tickle white egos.” Zhou’s article also links numerous reading materials, social media accounts worth following, and practical steps to be a proper advocate.

Awareness is unquestionably necessary, but if you’re relying on the passive act of sharing a post to absolve yourself from your white privilege and to reconcile your past faults, you’re not advocating for the right reasons. Reach out to your black friends and family, read works written by black writers, support black businesses, listen to podcasts, donate to an array of funds, educate yourself and, if you’re not sure about something, ask!

With all this in mind, I’m not saying you need to abandon your social platforms. Instead, I ask you to think beyond the means of advocacy you’ve been taught and become comfortable with. Decolonize your media, as Zhou puts it. If you can afford a music subscription or a new pair of shoes, what’s a small donation to a worthwhile cause? If you really are strapped for cash, prioritize educating yourself and others—it’s free. If you can educate even one person and enable them to re-evaluate their thoughts and reactions to the current movement, you’ve just become a catalyst for change.

Graphic by Alexa Hawksworth










Concordia statement on Black Lives and demandsfor an anti-racist pedagogy



Peaceful protest against police violence followed by clashes between officers and demonstrators

Over 20,000 Montrealers came out to support a message against racism and police violence yesterday.

Clashes between police and protesters broke out Sunday night in the aftermath of a peaceful demonstration against police brutality. Organizers of the protest said they want the focus of the event to remain a message against racism and police violence.

An estimated 20,000 to 30,000 people gathered downtown to attend the protest, which had been dubbed Justice for Victims of Police Killings and was organized by a group of community activists. The event was created in solidarity with protests in the U.S. surrounding the death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota last week after a police officer knelt on his neck for nine minutes. Floyd was suspected of using a counterfeit 20 dollar bill to purchase cigarettes.

Marlihan Lopez, one of the protest’s organizers, said the event aimed to address the systemic issue of police violence not only in the U.S., but in Canada as well.

“This is not an American issue, this is also a Canadian and a Quebec issue,” said Lopez, before naming Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a 29-year-old Black woman from Toronto who died after an intervention with the police last week. Police had been called to assist in a domestic conflict involving Korchinski-Paquet. Shortly after arriving, police emerged from Korchinski-Paquet’s apartment and informed her family that she had fallen from the 24-story balcony. The incident is currently under investigation.

Protesters take a knee in front of a police line that had formed later in the evening.

Those who attended the protest said they came to support changes to systematic injustice. Chants such as “No justice, no peace,” “I can’t breathe,” and “Black lives matter” rang out throughout the march.

“I have four boys and we live to make sure that they will be growing in a safe place,” said Karen Abelard. “[Being] here is important not only for us, but for the future, for our kids.”

26-year-old Lindsay Williams, a white protester, said,“I feel like we need to use our voice and our privilege to do this. Even though this is scary and uncomfortable, it’s time to be scared and uncomfortable.”

Events began to turn around 8 p.m. Although the majority of protesters had left the area, police began lining up in full gear on certain streets, blocking the path.

“The moment that we want to do something for Black people they’re blocking us off,” said an anonymous protester in response to this issue. “We’re being peaceful about it [but] we’re still not getting the chance to get our word across.”

At 8:11 an SPVM bus equipped with a loudspeaker announced that, as some protesters were engaging in unlawful conduct, the protest was now deemed illegal. The crowd was ordered to disperse.

SPVM relations told the Concordian, “at this point objects were thrown to [sic] police officers, so that’s why we gave the warning and said that the demonstrations were illegal— some criminal act[s] had already started.”

According to Luca Caruso-Moro, a Concordia Journalism student who was live tweeting the event, there was still a large group of protesters demonstrating peacefully in front of the SPVM headquarters on St-Urbain when the message to disperse was played.

“[This] was then followed only seconds later by several tear gas canisters being shot into the air,” said Caruso-Moro.

Protestors dispersed as the police line advanced and officers continued to shoot tear gas canisters. Meanwhile, some individuals began breaking windows on the Bell building on St-Urbain, while other protesters yelled at them to stop. Some protesters gathered to form a barricade, which was eventually put to the side for a firetruck to pass.

“The majority of people that I saw continuing to demonstrate after the initial rounds of tear gas were fired were doing so peacefully,” said Caruso-Moro.

Clashes ended around 11 p.m., with officers continuing to monitor the area throughout the night.

Over 70 cases of mischief were reported, including vandalism and breaking and entering. Of the total 11 arrests, nine were for breaking and entering, one was for assault with a weapon, and one was for mischief. SPVM said that investigations are currently underway and may result in further arrests in the following days.

Marlihan Lopez said that, despite the clashes, the message of the protest should remain focused on justice against racism and police violence.

“The vandalism isn’t the story, the graffiti isn’t the story, the looting isn’t the story, and even the protest is not the story: the story is police violence, it’s anti-blackness,” said Lopez.

Another protest is scheduled to take place on Sunday, June 7.

Photos by Hadassah Alencar


Concordia statement on Black Lives and demandsfor an anti-racist pedagogy


Student Life

Memories of the SGW Affair

Re-examining the socio-political climate of 1960s Montreal

In light of the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Sir George Williams Affair, Protests and Pedagogy, a two-day conference commemorating the largest student occupation in Canadian history, took place at De Sève Cinema in the LB building on Feb. 8 and 9.

The series of panels saw speakers, academics and activists from across the country join together to share information and memories of the events on Feb. 11, 1969. Resituating the occupation within the broader socio-political context of racial tensions in the 1950s and 60s in Montreal, as well as globally, underpinned each discussion.

Michael O. West, professor of sociology, Africana studies and history at Binghamton University, kicked off the conference by giving some much-needed historical context to the occupation. On April 28, 1968, eight students approached the Dean of Students with the initial complaint regarding their biology professor. “1968 was a year of protests and rebellion worldwide,” said West. “The Sir George Williams Affair was deeply rooted in the revolution of 1968.” Twenty-two days before the students came forth with their initial complaint “was the assassination, on April 4, 1968, of the King of Love,” said West. “Martin Luther King.”

Following West, H. Nigel Thomas, an author of various novels, poems and scholarly texts, chaired the second panel discussion between four individuals who were all involved, in one way or another, with the events surrounding Feb. 11.

Clarence Bayne, a then-professor at Sir George Williams University; Philippe Fils-Aimé, one of the Hall building occupants as well as one of the 97 people arrested that day; Brenda Dash, a Montrealer who vocally supported the students and was also arrested; and Nancy Warner, then a student-supporter from McGill who was outside the Hall building on Feb. 11. Every panelist had unique, insightful details of the intentionally misrepresented protest-turned-riot, all to convey one theme: it’s time the truth got a fair hearing.

The 9th floor computer centre after Feb. 11, 1969. Archive photo courtesy of Concordia University.

“Many people saw a face of Montreal that they had never seen before. The sheer hostility, the racism, the things that were said to people,” said Warner. “The degree to which what we thought were the rules of due-process, of the people being treated like they had some kind of civil liberties, were dashed.”

Some major news outlet headlines from Feb. 11 and onwards read: “Police Stay Cool in Chaos” and “Riot Squad Impressive” (The Gazette, Feb. 12, 1969) in which police are praised for appearing “relaxed and in good humour,” as well as “Student Moderates Alienated—Extremists go it Alone,” (The Star, Feb. 12, 1969) which stated that black students wanted to “burn down the university.”

“Much has been said about the destructive danuma of February 11,” said West. “A favourite description became and remains: riot. It being assumed that the rioters and protesters were one and the same.”

To this day, the administration and major news outlets present the mysterious fire as a point of contestation from the riots that day, despite the fact that students were arrested and charged with arson, among other offences, in the ensuing trials.

“I am going to also make a few comments on the question of this fire at the computer centre. I will tell you things that I have never said or mentioned before,” said Fils-Aimé. “As we were in jail, I had the chance to talk with Rosie [Roosevelt Douglas] and I said ‘Rosie, did you start this fucking fire, man?’ and he said ‘Phillippe, I must tell you, I didn’t have to.’” Fils-Aimé went on to explain how Rosie speculated that an individual whom they knew to be a devoted anarchist was the arsonist.

Details of the brutal events that took place once the riot squad stormed into the Hall building have not been downplayed—they have been left out of the history books altogether. “It is true that a riot occurred at the computer centre,” said West. “Except the riot only began with the arrival of the Montreal police riot squad.”

“The black occupiers were singled-out for especially brutal retribution. Black women, as could be expected, got the worst of it,” said West. “Subjected to bigoted bile as well as sexual violence. [Black men’s] bodies were ground in broken glass, they were kicked in the groin and genitalia.”

The students who made the initial complaint were taking a biology course, many of whom had dreams of attending medical school and ascending to the professional realm of society. “In sum, the police riot was also an attack on black sexuality and black reproduction,” said West.

West explained that, in regards to holding the police and the university accountable for the riots, “that has occurred to no one; that is, no one in a position of authority.” Fils-Aimé left attendees with a metaphor: when history is written by the lions, you’ll never hear the side of the antelopes. “In the process, truth became another victim,” said West. “It’s time, officially, that truth got a hearing at Concordia University. It’s time.”

Feature photo by Alex Hutchins


Breaking down police brutality

Former SPVM officer discusses police training, Concordia student reflects on brutality

Protesters marked the 21st anniversary of Montreal’s annual police brutality protest by taking to the streets of downtown Montreal on March 15 to denounce brutality conducted by the Service de police de la ville de Montréal (SPVM) and other officers.

Since the march started in Montreal in 1997, similar marches have sprung up in cities across Canada and around the world, including in Nigeria, Spain, France, Mexico, Germany, England, Belgium, Portugal and the U.S.

Many Journalists and concerned citizens who have documented police brutality have held the SPVM accountable for their actions. This includes the Collectif opposé à la brutalité policière (COBP), the organization that holds the annual police brutality march in Montreal.

Regardless of these watchdogs, tension between some citizens and SPVM officers persists.

Daniel Slapcoff, a first year Concordia student in film production, said he recently experienced an act of police brutality when he was hit in the face with a police shield.

At the time, Slapcoff was outside City Hall documenting protests surrounding federal anti-Islamophobia Motion 103. The protest had been initiated by the Canadian Coalition of Concerned Citizens (CCCC) on March 4, with far-right group La Meute (the Wolf Pack) joining their ranks soon after. Left-wing activist group Action Antifasciste Montréal (AAM) counter-protested the demonstration.

As members of La Meute and CCCC decided to disperse City Hall, Slapcoff said police began interfering to ensure the differing activist groups didn’t end up too close to one another. That’s when Slapcoff noticed some officers aggressively pushing protesters.

“They stopped us because they thought we were getting too close to the other group,” said Slapcoff, who was standing at the edge of the protest with the other journalists.

That’s when Slapcoff was hit in the face with the officer’s riot shield, knocking out his two front teeth.

Slapcoff said he had identified himself before the incident to the same officer who struck him.

“I went up to the policeman and said, ‘Don’t worry, I’m not going to try and cause any trouble. I’m just observing,’” Slapcoff said.

After the incident, Slapcoff said he took a photo of the officer to document his ID number—following this, he confronted the officer about his behaviour.

“Do you see what you did? You just knocked my two front teeth—I had talked to you and everything,” Slapcoff recalled saying to the officer. While the officer asked Slapcoff if he wanted him to call an ambulance, he refused to apologize for hitting him.

“He said, ‘No, I just followed an order. That’s what I have to do,’” Slapcoff said. “I don’t know if that’s an official answer that he’s supposed to give or perhaps him just [being] mean.”

Although he has not officially decided to sue the SPVM, Slapcoff wants compensation for his teeth. “I was stuck in the hospital for the whole day after that,” he said.

“I have to get a two root canals and crowns,” he said. Yet, the root canals are only a semi-permanent fix. “In twenty years, I’m going to have to do it again.”

This was not Slapcoff’s first experience with police brutality. When Slapcoff tried to intervene after witnessing police officers pushing some men outside of a bar, eight of the officers forced Slapcoff to the ground.

“They were pinning me on the ledge, on the side of the sidewalk and applying pressure points to my jaw,” he said. When the officers ID’d him, they made a racist remark about his Jewish name, Slapcoff added. “Then they fined me $150 for disturbing the peace,” Slapcoff said.

“At that time, I just let it go. I didn’t want to deal with it, but this time I feel like I kind of have to.”

Paul Chablo, the current chair of John Abbott College’s police technology program and a former SPVM officer with 30 years of service experience, said there is a common misconception of what defines police brutality.

“If an individual resists a police officer and tries to confront him physically, the police officer is allowed to use force—that is not police brutality,” Chablo said. “[However], any police officer who uses more force than necessary is considered or can be charged with excessive force,” he said.

“Police brutality is not when you go to a protest and you arrest someone and you throw them to the ground,” said Chablo, who was present at a few of the anti-police brutality marches while working for the SPVM. “Police officers are allowed to use force to disperse an unruly crowd,” said Chablo.

However, if a police officer has restrained an individual and they are no longer resisting, but the officer is still using force, this qualifies as police brutality, Chablo added.

“The golden rule that [officers] are taught here is resistance equals force—the more the person resists, the more force you’re allowed to use,” Chablo said.

Chablo said so long as officers follow that rule and do not apply force to someone who has been restrained or has backed down, there will never be a problem. “He could be accused in front of an ethics board, but he will never be found guilty.”

In his last years with the SPVM, Chablo worked as chief inspector for the public relations department.

Chablo said students in the police technology program are advised to be particularly mindful of the force they use, given the ease with which bystanders can record their actions. However, the level of force used should not be dictated by whether someone is filming or not, he added.

“If you are questioning the force that you are using because you’re being filmed, then chances are, you’re using excessive force.”

In John Abbott’s police technology program, students undergo three courses on conflict management, said Chablo. In these courses, students study conflict management, in particular, verbal judo—a persuasive technique used to convince the person to cooperate by convincing them that they contributed to the decision-making process. This creates a situation where violence is avoided, Chablo said. “It’s conflict management and defusing tense situations.”

In these courses, students are also taught how to intervene legally and in a justified way to ensure they are not accused of intervening or making arrests based on race, gender or religion. Students also undergo training on necessary force—how to use it and when it is permissible according to the law, Chablo said.

People may think they have become a victim of police brutality, but if they think back if they used resistance and the police responded with some type of force, it’s not necessarily police brutality, said Chablo.

“I’m not here to defend the Montreal police because … they always have to be accountable for whatever they do,” Chablo said. “A police officer who will go out and commit an act of police brutality is doing it because his or her human emotions have taken over, and they are no longer following the rules. It’s very clear,” said Chablo.

The Concordian asked Slapcoff whether he believes training for SPVM officers should be revised. Slapcoff said he does not know the details of how officers are trained, but he believes there could be better training, specifically regarding anger management. “I think if they’re given training to control their anger, it’s not working,” said Slapcoff. “And I think that there could be a million reasons for why a policeman acts like that, it’s so widespread there has to be something that happens. There has to be a widespread change [to] their training.”


UPDATED: Police adjourn anti-police brutality march

Police give two warnings to protesters before shutting down the protest

The sound of helicopters flying overhead were heard as a crowd of approximately 300 marched along Ontario street. A protest which began with unified chanting, escalated to protesters throwing flares and one cop car being damaged as the group reached Quartier des Spectacles.

Protest participant smashes windows of SPVM car. Photo by Alex Hutchins.

“No justice, no peace, fuck the police,” protesters shouted in unison, as they walked from Hochelaga towards Montreal’s downtown core. The march began at 7 p.m. at Place Simon-Valois and concluded two blocks east of Place des Arts.

The protest was organized by Collectif Opposé à la Brutalité Policière, a group founded in 1995 which opposes harassment, intimidation, arrest, violence and brutality-related conduct by police. They also provide support for victims of police brutality.

Many protesters dressed in all black. Photo by Alex Hutchins

As marchers walked along Ontario street, some protesters began to throw flares as they turned towards Ste-Catherine, however, police blocked the way. Near Union and Ste-Catherine, one participant in the crowd began to hit the windows of a police car parked on the street, smashing them—a few joined in. Police, however, did not intervene.

Police warned protesters twice before intervening. Photo by Alex Hutchins.

At approximately 9 p.m. protesters marched towards Place des Arts—some shot flares and some began to hit windows. Around the same time, police arrived on horse. The SPVM warned the crowd that some participants were initiating unlawful conduct and if it persisted, police would intervene and shut down the demonstration.

One protester began hitting the window of the H&M located at Ste-Alexandre and Ste-Catherine, but didn’t shatter the glass. Police gave a second warning to protesters, as a line of cops trailed behind the march.

“Tout le monde deteste de la police,” many protesters chanted in unison. Most of the crowd was enrobed in black.

Video by Frédéric Muckle.

Moments after, police on foot and on bikes began trooping in. As protesters approached Saint-Urbain, cops interfered after some did not comply to cease vandalism. Some were kettled near SPVM headquarters, but were released.

A blockade was made in front of the headquarters, for remaining participants along Ste-Catherine. As the SPVM moved through the crowd, this split the crowd of protesters in half—a few cops on horses remained as steady watchdogs.

“They tend to do whatever they please,” said protest participant Richard Beaulieau, referring to police illegally arresting and ticketing people.

Police follow protesters. Photo by Alex Hutchins.

Beaulieau recalled the time an SPVM officer hit him with a baton on March 5, 2013, as he was participating in Maple Spring protests against tuition hikes.

Although police had successfully broken up the crowd, some participants lingered. Many cops stood guard, with a small row of police on horse at the intersection of Saint-Urbain.

Watch our video footage of the protest below.

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