Police chief defends force's handling of Montreal North protest

The chief of Montreal police is defending how officers handled a protest that turned violent in Montreal North after facing backlash from its union.

Union criticizes police response, says officers were given orders to stand down

'There was a police strategy to be less visible,' Philippe Pichet, Montreal police chief, said. (Radio-Canada)

Montreal's police chief is standing by how officers handled a protest that turned violent in Montreal North after facing backlash from its union.

The vigil and march to denounce the police shooting death of Bony Jean-Pierre, a 46-year-old black man, degenerated on the night of April 6.

A small group of protesters vandalized cars, set fire to a bank and threw projectiles at a police station — and Yves Francoeur, the president of the Montreal Police Brotherhood, claims officers were given orders to stand down.

"There was a police strategy to be less visible," Philippe Pichet, the chief of Montreal police, said.

In a letter addressed to Mayor Denis Coderre, the union condemned the way the riot unfolded and police actions that followed.

"Know that police officers did not at all appreciate the order to keep their arms crossed," Francoeur wrote.

Mandate to 'do nothing'

A small group of protesters broke away from the main group around 9:15 p.m. (Radio-Canada)

Francoeur also wrote the Montreal police's mandate to "do nothing" also sends the wrong message to criminals. He adds that 40 calls were made to 911 during the riot without any answer.

Pichet fired back, saying Francoeur's interest was to defend the interest of union members and not to carry out police operations.

He added that actions for that evening were co-ordinated but that officers can always intervene if a citizen's life is in danger.

"Officers don't need orders to intervene — they have a duty to intervene," Pichet said.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.