Tensions between Montreal North’s youth, police
Updated Wed. Jun. 17 2009
CTV.ca News Staff [Quebec]
Some residents of Montreal North are worried the neighbourhood’s youth are relying on violence to express their frustrations with police, after a night of vandalism resulted in nine arrests.
“I’m worried that young people are developing a culture of violence against the police,” Brunilda Reyes, a community spokesperson, told CTV Montreal in French. “We have to change that.”
The Montreal borough has seen several violent protests since teenager Fredy Villanueva was fatally shot by police last August. During the latest bout of vandalism Tuesday night, businesses were damaged, fires were set, and police were pelted with bottles.
Youth worker Will Prosper said young people are concerned they have been the targets of racism. After Villanueva’s death, politicians and law enforcement officials spoke about reaching out to Montreal North’s youth, but Prosper said there has been little or no concrete action.
“The leaders have not listened to them,” he said.
Most of the suspects arrested Tuesday night are in their twenties. They face a range of charges including assault with a weapon, assaulting a police officer, trespassing, vandalism and public mischief.
According to reports, police went to the park at about 10 p.m. in response to calls about fights in the area.
When they arrived the fight had broken up, but between 50 and 60 youths were in the park.
Officers stayed on the scene to observe the group, but eventually became the target — with the group pelting the officers with bottles and rocks.
About 100 riot police were called in to clear the group, which then went on to cause damage to parked cars, businesses and a school in the area.
Const. Andre Leclerc told The Canadian Press on Wednesday that the group quickly broke out of the area around the park.
“The young people were going in the back alleys and the streets,” Leclerc said. “They were damaging cars and houses and a school.”
One officer was slightly injured in the melee while trying to arrest one of the suspects.
On Wednesday morning, Montreal Police Chief Yvan Delorme visited the scene of the Tuesday night confrontation — a sign of the high level of concern about relations between police and residents in the area.
“The police are saying they know this is a hotbed, there are occasionally clashes with police and there’s a high level of mistrust of police — but also that they have a job to do and when there’s a call about a disturbance they’re going to go ahead and do their job,” Lurie told CTV News Channel.
In Quebec City, provincial Public Security Minister Jacques Dupuis said a small group of agitators are responsible for the high tensions in north Montreal.
Dupuis vowed that police would not turn a blind eye but would continue to bring order to the area.