500 marchers mark anniversary of teen's death
Published Monday, August 10, 2009 7:29AM EDT
Fredy Villanueva's parents led some 500 marchers to the site where one year earlier their 18-year-old son was shot and killed by police.
Almost to the hour of her son's death, a sobbing Lilian Villanueva knelt in front of the makeshift shrine Sunday in the Montreal North park where he died.
She placed a white candle among the flowers and stuffed animals.
Fredy Villanueva's sister, Patricia, says she hopes something positive will come out of the tragedy.
She says her family helped organize two days of weekend events in Montreal North which commemorated Villanueva's death and were aimed at increasing community involvement.
On Saturday, a series of workshops and a five-hour concert featuring local urban musicians took place without incident, as did Sunday's march that wound through the neighbourhood's streets.
Bad blood remains
Despite the violence-free weekend, a rift remains between youth and police in the low-income area.
Local activist Will Prosper says the Villanueva shooting has only increased tensions that were already present in the neighbourhood.
Local police were on high-alert for the event, something some marchers didn't appreciate.
"If they feel it's necessary, they should at least make themselves less visible because they know it raises tension," said one marcher.
Last year, a day after Villanueva was shot, streets in Montreal North erupted into rioting that left several cars and local businesses damaged.
Weekend of events
The event began at 5 p.m. at Aim� L�onard Park, the site of the two-day Hoodstock festival organized by local activist group Montreal Nord Republik.
The march is a community initiative aimed to counter racial profiling, but the march took on strong anti-police overtones, said CTV reporter Stephane Giroux.
Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay was on hand Sunday at Hoodstock, where he said he expected the vigil to be non-violent.