The Electric Pencil

Dupuis still doesn’t get it

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Listening to CBC report on yesterday’s events in Montreal North, it seems like Quebec Public Security Minister Jacques Dupuis still doesn’t get it.

Last night there was a confrontation between police and youth in Montreal North. News outlets are reporting that residents of the Montreal borough called police, disturbed by a group of youth in a nearby park who were allegedly drinking and causing a disturbance. Police say when officers arrived, they were surrounded by the youth and needed to call back-up. Reports go on to say the youth then started throwing bottles and other objects at police and causing damage, including breaking car windows.

It was a different park, but the same area where Fredy Villanueva was shot and killed by police last summer. The hearings into Villanueva’s death have been suspended after most witnesses, including Villanueva’s family, refused to participate for a variety of reasons, including the fact the commission was not allowed to find fault and Minister Dupuis’ refusal to provide funds to help pay for lawyers of those assisting in the public hearings.

The events weren’t a direct response to Fredy Villanueva’s death, but Dupuis’ statements this morning to CBC radio that there is no link between the two events is more than a little staggering. All the more so since on CBC Radio Noon right now, residents, police and community activists are all saying that there is a link. Tensions in the community remain high, they are expalining, and youth are still suspicious of police.

And according to resident Will Prosper, a member of Montréal-Nord Républik, not enough has been done to either improve policing tactics or the living conditions of residents of one of Montreal’s poorest areas despite promises by the city and provincial government to work on both after Villanueva’s senseless death.

Until politicians like Dupuis and folks on the bourough council in Montréal-Nord start to understand all this, and until there is closure on the death of Fredy Villanueva, tensions in the area are doomed to continue.

Written by Tim McSorley

June 17, 2009 at 12:40 pm

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