Black Lives Matter movement rallies in Montreal
Hundreds gathered at Nelson Mandela Park on Victoria St. in Cote-Des-Neiges on Wednesday night to express solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
The rally was held in the wake of recent shootings in Dallas, as well as several other incidents which saw black citizens killed by police in the United States.
Attendees listened to speeches and said they came to denounce discrimination and police violence against the black community in the US. They also spoke of the shootings of Marcellus Francois, Anthony Griffin and Alain Magloire, all of whom were black Quebecers shot to death by police over the past few decades.
Esther Cadet said that as a black woman, she is always careful when around police officers.
"You have to be upright, you have to be cautious. If police say jump, you jump. You don't ask why: you're black," said Cadet.
The sentiment that police exist to watch them, not protect them, was echoed by many at the rally.
“There’s lots of blacks here in Quebec that have been a part of that police brutality and have been a part of the discrimination here,” said protester Venetta-Solena Gordon.
“Time and time again, it goes back in history, where blacks have been beaten and treated like dogs, like our lives don’t matter, like we mean nothing to the community or to this world and that’s unfair. Just like everybody else, we are human beings.”
Quebec's Public Security Minister, Martin Coiteux, said he believes the situation in Quebec is much different than what is happening to black communities south of the border.
"We have to be very careful to protect the rights of all minorities in Quebec so I support people who are demonstrating for having equality of rights and we are completely in solidarity with what happened. And of course we want to preserve our model here of peaceful coexistence," said Coiteux.
However many at the rally disagreed with Coiteux's statement, saying police in this province can be just as abusive.
"The laws are there, Quebec is very good for that. It's who enforces what is written. It is how it is enforced that is the problem," said Ryan Cox of the Black Coalition of Quebec.
Will Prosper, a former RCMP officer, said police in Quebec do not treat everyone the same.
"There's racial profiling and it's worse than in the United States," said Prosper.
Another rally, this one planned by the Montreal Black Lives Matter Facebook group, is planned for 2:00 p.m. on Saturday at Cabot Square.