Black Lives Matter protest police shooting, take over Jazz Fest stage
Protesters from Black Lives Matter Toronto and Montreal Noir briefly commandeered a Jazz Festival stage on Sunday afternoon while demonstrating against the recent fatal shooting of a man by Montreal police.
Police said no damage was caused and no arrests were made.
Earlier in the day, the protesters had assembled in the Gay Village to speak out against Tuesday’s shooting that left 58-year-old Pierre Coriolan dead.
On Tuesday, police responded to a call reporting Coriolan was demolishing everything in his home. Police said they found him holding a screwdriver in each hand. After attempts to subdue him with a tazer and rubber bullets failed, Coriolan was shot several times.
The investigation into the shooting has been turned over to Quebec’s Bureau of Independent Investigators.
The building where Coriolan lived is run by FOHM, an organization that helps people with low incomes or who are at risk of becoming homeless.
In a statement, protest organizers said police should not play in a role in responding to mental health crises, pointing to shooting involving several other black men who they said were suffering from mental disorders.
Protester Zolani Stewart said recent events in Montreal brought him out in solidarity with other black people. He pointed to the shooting of Coriolan along with a controversial St. Jean Baptiste Day Parade float that had white performers being pushed by young black men and a recent case of alleged racial profiling in which a young, black Montreal man was detained for nine hours after a neighbour erroneously reported a shooting.
“It’s a bit cathartic to see other people here,” he said. “To be with people in a physical space, that matters.”
Matthew Pearce, President and CEO of the Old Brewery Mission, said he’s been working with SPVM chief Philippe Pichet since the January shooting of a homeless man named Jimmy Cloutier. Cloutier was a longtime client of the OBM who was killed after police said he made an “aggressive gesture” at them while armed.
Pearce said Pichet had been working with him on developing new training for officers dealing with a mental health crisis, such as teaching them to deescalate situations.
“It means giving someone space, giving them time, opening a dialogue, getting them to calm down and making that your first measure,” said Pearce.
Pearce said new recruits to the SPVM have already begun receiving training and officers already on the force will start in September.