Community remembers Villanueva at Hoodstock
A year after 18-year-old Fredy Villanueva was killed by police in Henri Bourassa Park in Montreal North, family and community members are gathering to commemorate the young man's life and reflect upon the incidents that led to his death.
Dubbed Hoodstock, the two-day event at Aim� L�onard Park in Montreal North begins Saturday and will feature urban music and a conference, as well as a gathering place for the community to remember the past and plan for the future.
Residents in Montreal North won't easily forget the widespread rioting that erupted in the low-income area the day after the shooting. More than 100 riot police were called in to thwart the violence that erupted when swarms of youths damaged parked cars, businesses and a school in the area, and pelted rocks and bottles at police.
Twelve months later, Montreal police say the officers at Station 39 have worked to improve relationships with the citizens of Montreal, but locals are not convinced.
"I'm worried that young people are developing a culture of violence against the police," Brunilda Reyes, a community spokesperson, told CTV Montreal last month. "We have to change that."
Police say they will be on high alert, with both plain-clothed and uniformed officers patrolling the site.
Hoodstock aims to be a non-violent cultural event featuring conferences on a variety of topics such as multiculturalism, street gangs, gangster rap and citizens' rights as well as performances by local and international artists including Luck Mervil, Karma Atchykah and Los Playaz.
Hoodstock organizer Will Prosper said the music is a way of bringing the community together.
"Through music, you can achieve something very positive and you can send a message to the community," said Prosper.
While organizers aimed at bringing communities together, some said the event was too focused on race relations.
"I would rather see people coming together and trying to make Montreal North what it used to be," said one attendee, referring to the days before Villanueva's death intigated racial and social tensions in the community.
"It's not just hard for black people, it's hard for everyone," she said.