Pat Dillon-Moore was in her early 20s, wrestling with a Xerox typewriter at her desk in a drafty office when she heard the voice of radio broadcaster say five words — "Black man shot in NDG."

She immediately got on the phone to find out if it was someone she knew, a brother, a friend.

"I remember the fear well," she said.

That man turned out to be a 19-year-old named Anthony Griffin, and he was shot by a police officer. His death had a profound impact on the city's black community. Dillon-Moore, who is now a broadcaster and spoken word artist, was on the front line of what happened next.

Here is her story, as told to CBC Montreal's Dionne Codrington, Cassandra Leader and Antoni Nerestant.

Her comments have been edited for length and clarity.


We were at that party age. We should have been backpacking across Europe or just hanging out.

Overnight, we turned into activists.

You have to understand, we were the kids who grew up with Sesame Street. We were told the policemen are your friends; if you get lost, look for the policeman.

And then the policemen were shooting us? In NDG? It was a loss of innocence, really.

Getting involved in the protests

I remember my mother not wanting me to [participate], being afraid. 

Sure, there were generational struggles, but everybody gave place to everybody to ensure the voices were heard.

Pat Dillon-Moore

Pat Dillon-Moore chanting, 'Lock him up,' during a February 1988 protest following Anthony Griffin's death. (Radio-Canada)

I remember it being cold like a dog's nose. [Ed's note: She is referring to a protest march on Feb. 27, 1988.]

 I remember freezing, just being so cold.

I remember the jokes that the only time we get together like this on the road is carnival day, when it's warm and it's happy and it's music, but this was life and death.

They're shooting us now, then telling us crap, how the gun accidentally fired by itself and all this garbage, as if we were stupid.

On why people gathered

They're shooting us. It was a no-brainer, really. 

We were so connected by the various organizations.

Just looking at his mother, Ms. Augustus, on television, her face was every parent's fear at the time, so that's why the elders came out. And the elders who had a history before of protest and activism and Garveyism, they spoke to us younger ones.

It got real so fast. We had no choice.

Gloria Augustus

Gloria Augustus, Anthony Griffin's mother, flanked by a number of reporters. (CBC)

On seeing police officers now

I'm middle-aged now. I used to think it would be safer.

It isn't.

In my middle-aged years, I've probably had three experiences where I could say, "Hey, that was a human being. He was very, very decent."

It is mistrust, I wouldn't say it's fear.

If you see them flooding a party that you're at, it's apprehension, because it can go any way, because it always has.

How far have we come?

Right back in a circle.

Fredy Villaneuva, when I heard of his death, I remembered all of those shootings, each and every time the phone would ring. Many of those shootings happened before we had cellphones, so the house phone would ring. 

Villenueva  Funeral 20080814

Gilberto and Lilian Villanueva, right, the parents of Fredy Villanueva, and other family members pass by the coffin at his funeral in Montreal. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

I think we've gone full circle. The learning doesn't seem to get carried on, so just as a group of community activists, coroners' inquests would educate people, they retire, and it's as if all the police officers come from outside of Montreal, and you have re-educate [the police] about the fear.

The old soldiers have gotten older, some have retired and are bitter. Some, like me, wonder if they should just focus on their family. And the young bucks coming up? I don't know.

Advice for young black people?

Work with us. There's no need for a generational split. The elders here, the young ones here, we need some sort of body with everyone together so the young can teach the older ones.

Document everything. That cellphone camera, use the video to tell your story.


This week, on the 30th anniversary of Anthony Griffin's death, CBC Montreal is presenting His name was Anthony: the life and death of Anthony Griffin and how he changed a city.

Anthony Griffin

The series explores how the fatal police shooting galvanized Montreal's black community and led to changes in policing in multiethnic communities.

Part 1: His name was Anthony: Friends remember Montreal police shooting victim 30 years later

Part 2: The key moments that followed the day Anthony Griffin was shot

Part 3: Overnight activist: How Anthony Griffin's death changed 1 woman

Part 4: Anthony Griffin's death sparked an uprising in Montreal, but police still have work to do