Marches take over the downtown core

Photo by Rob Flis.

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.

Photo by Rob Flis.

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.


Protesters demand resignation of police officer

Photo by Marie-Josée Kelly

A call for the dismissal of Constable Stéfanie Trudeau and a condemnation of police brutality was the message of protesters that took to the streets of the downtown core Friday night.

Trudeau, better known by her badge number 728, was temporarily suspended from the police force last week following the release of a video showing her use foul language and excessive aggression against a civilian during an arrest, Tuesday, Oct. 2.

“That incident was thankfully recorded but we don’t know how often this happens,” said protester and second-year nursing student at Dawson College, Geoffrey Graham.

Graham believes that Trudeau overstepped boundaries and her behaviour was unacceptable.

Photo by Marie-Josée Kelly
“I tend to be optimistic and hope that it does not happen very often but I just want it to be as widely known as possible that this is not what we believe our police should be doing, they should be protecting us,” he said.

Trudeau also gained notoriety during the student conflict when a video posted online showed her pepper-spraying individuals who appeared to be non-threatening during a protest. She is suspended pending the results of an internal investigation into the allegations made against her.

Michael Arruda, a Montreal Police mediator followed Friday’s demonstration and was on hand to resolve any conflict that might arise.

“I know a lot of the people present here tonight,” said Arruda. “I’ve walked with them this summer [in the protests] and I say we’re going to have to give the system a chance, see what they have to say. I haven’t lost faith in the system yet and I think justice will be done.”

The march ended around 11 p.m. with no arrests reported.


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