Video shows Quebec City police hitting and shoving snow in Black youth's face
QUEBEC CITY -- A video circulating on social media allegedly shows Quebec City (SPVQ) police violently arresting a young Black teen.
In the video, a police officer is seen using his boot to jam snow in the teen's face as other officers pin him face down on the ground.
The force says it has "been made aware of a video" circulating concerning the arrest, which took place "during the night of Nov. 26 to 27."
The SPVQ would not comment on what the two teens were arrested for.
It adds it has opened an investigation into the incident.
Quebec City police released a statement Sunday saying it has reviewed the video and the behaviour of the officers involved "is of great concern to management."
"As soon as we were informed, the SPVQ consulted the video and took all the necessary measures," the release states. "The professional standards department was notified."
Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ) Leader Dominique Anglade notes she found the video "extremely troubling."
"Honestly, I had to look at it twice, three times," she said. "It was really troubling."
Anglade argues the SPVQ needs to be more representative of the population and an outside body needs to look into what happened.
"This raises a lot of questions and that's why I believe we really have to have an independent inquiry to get the answers that we need to get," said Anglade.
According to the SPVQ, the identity of the officers involved is still being confirmed.
No details have been given about the reason for the arrest, which has caused outrage on social media.
Professional boxer Eric Martel-Bahoéli reposted the video from comedian Renzel Dashington's Instagram account to his Facebook page, describing the behaviour of one of the police officers as "disgusting."
The young boy involved is a minor and a protégé of Martel-Bahoéli, who trains him at the Nordik Boxing Club.
"First of all, I was extremely surprised that I knew the young man and secondly, I was stunned, but not completely scandalized, when I saw the police officers' actions," the Canadian heavyweight champion said. "It doesn't make sense. He's a kid, he's a youngster."
He adds he's still waiting on news of the boy's condition.
"Clearly, he was immobilized with his arms behind his back," he said. "To do that to a young person, so gratuitously, it has no place. We're talking about 'serving and protecting.'"
For Martel-Bahoéli, a gesture like this only adds fuel to the fire of racial tensions between police officers and the Black and Indigenous communities.
"I really didn't like it. They're not thugs, they're not bad kids. They're not bad kids in life, from what I know. I found it disgraceful," he said.
Martel-Bahoéliis says he is especially concerned that such an incident could destroy all the work he and his colleagues have done tp help youth in his boxing club.
He says teenagers come to the club looking to get involved in the sport -- but also in search of social support, noting he also works with Youth Protection to help young people.
Despite the incident, he says he won't throw stones at the whole police department, insisting there are just a few bad officers who need to be identified and removed.
As a native of Quebec City, Martel-Bahoéli says he wants to see Black police officers hired by the SPVQ -- sooner rather than later.
"There are no Black police officers in Quebec City. That's not normal in 2021 when you look at the city and you look at the police force, which is supposed to be representative of the population, and there are zero Black police officers in Quebec City," he said.
Saturday, newly-elected Quebec City Mayor Bruno Marchand posted a message to Twitter, saying he was "disturbed by these images" and promising that "light will be shed on these events."
Premier François Legault echoed Marchand's concern saying, "Light must be shed on this event."
-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Nov. 27, 2021.