Montreal police union slams Mayor Valérie Plante over support for Fredy Villanueva memorial
Petitioners say 10th anniversary of police-shooting death perfect time to reflect on racial profiling
The Montreal Police Brotherhood says Mayor Valérie Plante should read — or re-read — the 134-page coroner's report into Fredy Villanueva's 2008 shooting death after voicing her support for a memorial for the Montreal North teen.
At her first council meeting Monday, Plante replied to a question from Solo Fugère, who launched a petition calling for the memorial last year, along with a fellow cast member from the Montreal play Fredy.
Fugère asked if the Plante administration would highlight the memory of "this victim of police brutality" in 2018, which will be the 10th anniversary of Villanueva's shooting by police Const. Jean-Loup Lapointe.
"Despite the good will of all involved, including police, it remains that there were errors committed in the past that caused the death of a young man who did not deserve to die," Plante said.
Villanueva was 18 when he was shot by Lapointe on Aug. 9, 2008, after police moved in to break up an illegal game of dice in the parking lot of Henri-Bourassa Arena.
Plante said Monday that many people in the community have been calling for a memorial to Villanueva for a long time.
She offered to meet Montreal North borough Mayor Christine Black "to find a solution quickly that will satisfy everyone."
Police Brotherhood reject comments
Both the Montreal Police Brotherhood and Montreal North's borough mayor expressed shock at Plante's comments.
Plante sent a "strange and ambiguous message" by saying she was interested in honouring the memory of Villanueva, the police union said in a statement.
"It could be useful for the mayor to read or re-read the coroner's report. This is not a subject we can deal with in generalities," said the brotherhood's president, Yves Francoeur.
The union also pointed out that there is no public memorial to the 71 police officers who have been killed in the line of duty in the city's history.
Ricardo Lamour, a friend of the Villanueva family who launched the petition along with Fugère, said the police union's comments are an attempt to derail the attention Plante's stance on Villanueva is getting.
Lamour said now is the perfect time for the city to reflect on racial profiling.
"We're entering the 10th year since the assassination of Fredy Villanueva," he told CBC Montreal's Homerun.
Decision to be made in Montreal North
Black said she and her borough administration were also surprised by Plante's position.
Black called it "a very polarizing issue for the citizens of Montreal North which has a huge level of nuance and requires enormous sensitivity."
Plante, for her part, has turned the matter back to Black and the Montreal North borough.
Asked how a memorial might take shape, Plante's spokesperson, Marc-André Viau replied, "It's up to borough Mayor Black."
With files from CBC Montreal's Homerun