A hundred people march against police brutality in Quebec

A hundred people took part in a march through Old Quebec on Saturday against police brutality and racial profiling, a week after the muscular arrest of an 18-year-old black man near a bar on the Grande Allée .

The demonstrators first gathered in front of the National Assembly to attend a few speeches before starting a march towards the city hall of Quebec under police presence. The event ended around 12:30 p.m.

The choice to stop in front of these two places of power as part of this event is not trivial. The collective of organizations representing the black community of Quebec at the origin of this one indeed urges both the Legault government and the City to act to prevent muscular arrests, like that which Pacific Niyokwizera underwent on the weekend. last, to arise again in the capital.

“We must continue to mobilize to get our message directly to the bodies concerned”, emphasizes to the To have to the coordinator of the League of Rights and Freedoms, Maxim Fortin, who took part in this event on Saturday.

A “too repressive” police

In recent days, the images of a police intervention carried out on the night of November 26 to 27 on the Grande Allée, near the bar Le Dagobert, have been widely relayed and commented on on social networks. We see several agents from the Police Department of Quebec City (SPVQ) intervening with force to control Niyokwizera on the Pacific ground. A police officer reportedly threw snow in his face with his boot, while the 18-year-old appears to be held to the ground by the knee of another officer. He came out with a swollen face, a concussion and serious eye injuries.

“The Quebec police are too repressive,” laments Mbaï-Hadji Mbaïrewaye, one of the spokespersons of the collective, in an interview with the To have to Saturday. “We need a preventive rather than repressive police”, he insists.

The collective behind the mobilization on Saturday therefore calls for an “independent and rapid” investigation into the circumstances surrounding this police intervention. Currently, the SPVQ is conducting its own investigation into this matter, while the Minister of Public Security Geneviève Guilbault has promised that the Police Ethics Commissioner will also look into this matter. The five police officers involved in this case have meanwhile been suspended.

“We need an entity that is impartial and that does not appear to be biased either so that the results are credible and that we can trust the process,” insists criminal lawyer Fernando Belton, who represents the family. of Pacific Niyokwizera. According to him, there is no doubt that the young man was the victim of racial profiling by the SPVQ. He notes that unfortunately, members of the black community are often wrongly associated with street gangs.

“This is the image that we put forward and it ensures that the police, when they intervene with these people, they will use greater force,” says the lawyer.

For now, the young man’s family is evaluating the possibility of initiating legal proceedings against the City of Quebec and the SPVQ. Fundraising launched online to finance such initiatives has enabled the family to raise more than $ 30,000 in a few days.

Tackling racial profiling

The collective also demands that the SPVQ follow in the footsteps of the Police Department of the City of Montreal by mandating experts to document the police arrests carried out on its territory, taking into account ethnic and religious origin. In Montreal, this approach made it possible in 2019 to lift the veil on significant “systemic biases” in the arrests carried out by SPVM agents, who disproportionately targeted black, indigenous and Arab people, compared to white people. . The SPVM subsequently recognized “the systemic nature of racism and discrimination” and undertook to “combat it”.

The collective thus hopes that the SPVQ will in turn recognize “the existence of racial profiling” within its ranks. The police force also has no officers in its ranks who are members of the black community. “We are very far from the account,” sighs Mbaï-Hadji Mbaïrewaye.

With Renaud Philippe

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