Families of victims march for change
At least 100 people marched through downtown Montreal on Saturday to commemorate the deaths of six people who lost their lives at the hands of the police and to call for changes in the way the police deal with the public.
The march began at the corner of Guy St. and de Maisonneuve Blvd., under the theme of "Diginity, Justice and Truth."
The families want to see an end of police brutality, racial profiling and the start of independent inquiries into cases like these.
"I'm representing the West Coast here, and it's in every single province, in every city, every town - this is what happens," Julie Matson, whose father was killed by the Vancouver Police, told CTV Montreal's Maya Johnson. "I want to put a face to the families that have to deal with these deaths afterwards, and how devastating it is."
The weekend-long event included a vigil in front of the Montreal Police Brotherhood on Friday and Saturday's march, remembering the lives of Anas Bennis, 25, Claudio Castagnetta, 32, Ben Matson, 49, Quilem Registre, 39, Gladys Tolley, 61, and Fredy Villanueva, 18.
"It brings me comfort to know that many people support me," said Liliane Villanueva, Fredy's mother.
Other family members of victims shared that sense of comfort in numbers
"By being with each other, it gives us strength to keep fighting," said Bridget Tolley, whose mother was struck a killed by a Surete du Quebec patrol car in 2001. "So it really makes a difference to have other families to keep us going."
One of the key issues that troubles all the families is the fact that the police investigate instances where another police force is involved in someone's death.
For instance, when Villanueva was shot and killed by a Montreal police officer in Montreal North in 2008, it was investigated by the SQ.
"I do not think any form of policing body should be investigating these matters," protester Farha Hussein said.
But more generally, it is the power of the police to infringe on basic human rights that the protesters felt needed to stop.
"The police can violate people's rights with impunity," said Dan Philip of the Black Coalition of Quebec. "In a society like ours, that shouldn't be permitted."