Montreal·In Depth

The death of Anthony Griffin and how he changed a city

This week, for the 30th anniversary of Anthony Griffin's death, CBC Montreal launched a series exploring how the fatal police shooting galvanized Montreal's black community.

Unarmed black teen was shot dead outside an NDG police station Nov. 11, 1987

Anthony Griffin in his photo from the 1986 Chomedey High School yearbook. He moved to Notre-Dame-de-Grâce when he was 18. He died at 19 after being shot in the head by a Montreal police officer. (Submitted)

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

Griffin, a 19-year-old black man, was shot and killed by a Montreal police officer on Nov. 11, 1987. He had been trying to run from Const. Allan Gosset, but stopped and turned around when Gosset told him to do. Gosset has always maintained his gun, pointed at Griffin, fired accidentally.

He was acquitted two separate times of manslaughter. After the first trial, his mother, Gloria Augustus broke down outside the courthouse. Griffin was her only child.

"Bitter, angry, whatever word you can fit in that category, I am," she said.
With a horde of reporters looking on, Gloria Augustus, Anthony Griffin's mother, breaks down outside a Montreal courtroom after the officer who shot her son was acquitted. (CBC)

The series explores how the fatal police shooting galvanized Montreal's black community, led to changes in policing in multiethnic communities and tries to determine whether those changes have endured.

It features interviews and stories researched and produced by CBC journalists Cassandra Leader, Dionne Codrington and Antoni Nerestant.


Anthony's death, and what followed

The story of Anthony's death and what was to come played out over the days and months following his death. This timeline maps out some of the important moments in that story.

In this video, we meet some of the main characters in this story.

Thirty years ago, Anthony Griffin was shot and killed by Montreal police in NDG. CBC’s Antoni Nerestant takes a look back at how the death of the 19-year-old unarmed black man affected Montreal’s black community. 2:23

30 years on, Anthony's friends still struggle

David Perrotte attended Chomedey High School with Griffin in Laval. To this day, he keeps newspaper clippings about Griffin's death in his kitchen.

"When you're friends with someone, it's kind of different to know that you know this person who they are talking about on TV," he said. 
David Perrotte, a childhood friend of Anthony Griffin, said he still finds himself struggling to understand how the teen died. (CBC)

A loss of innocence, a generation of activists

When she heard about the shooting, Pat Dillon was worried the man who died was someone she knew.

It turns out that she didn't know the victim, but Griffin's death still had an impact on her.

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 a broadcaster, coming from her radio, say a black man had been shot in NDG. That man was Anthony Griffin. (CBC)

An uprising followed, but there's a long way to go

Many black Montrealers who marched in the street to protest against Griffin's death 30 years ago point to that event as a major catalyst for change.

But many say there is still a long way to go — especially when it comes to police efforts.

In a few hours, Anthony Griffin went from being unknown to having his face all over newspapers and becoming a catalyst for social change. (CBC)

Montreal police weigh in on changes

Insp. André Durocher was on CBC Montreal's Daybreak to provide the Montreal police's perspective on what has changed since Griffin's death.

Montreal police Insp. André Durocher says he's seen progress in the police service over the past 30 years. (CBC)

You can listen to the interview here:

With files from CBC Montreal's Daybreak

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