Montreal

Protesters gather to denounce racial profiling, police brutality in wake of Camara arrest

The event comes days after Mamadi Camara, a Black man, was wrongfully charged with attempted murder of a police officer, only to be fully exonerated after spending six days in jail.

People demonstrated near Montreal police headquarters on Sunday

Around 200 people attended the event held near Montreal police headquarters. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Around 200 people gathered near Montreal Police headquarters on Sunday afternoon to protest racial profiling and police brutality.

The event comes days after Mamadi Camara, a Black man, was wrongfully charged with attempted murder of a police officer, only to be fully exonerated after spending six days in jail.

The 31-year-old PhD student was cleared by DNA evidence and police had to issue a public apology.

While police insisted Camara's arrest was not due to racial profiling, activists say the incident is part of a larger pattern of inequality.

Many also cited a recent story of a Black lawyer who was handcuffed in front of his daughter during a traffic stop.

"What happened this week just confirms that you can be a doctor or a lawyer or a professor — it doesn't matter. Our skin in constantly weaponized," said Marlihan Lopez, a member of Black Lives Matter Montreal and co-founder of the Defund the Police Coalition.

"We're policed more than the regular resident here in Montreal," she said.

A woman holds up a sign of support for Mamadi Camara during a demonstration against police violence in Montreal on Sunday. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

She said incidents like Camara's wrongful arrest only further illustrate the need for change.

"We want the government to hold the police accountable," said Lopez. "We don't need another study to tell us that there is systemic racism within the police; we want action."

Last year a damning report by Montreal's Office of Public Consultation slammed the city for turning a blind eye to issues of race and discrimination.

In 2019, another study found Black and Indigenous Montrealers were four to five times more likely than white people to be stopped by the police.

Myriam Larose-Truchon, who attended the protest, said she wanted to come out in order to show solidarity with her community.

She said that as a Montrealer, she wants to be treated the same as anyone else, regardless of the colour of her skin.

"This is my city as much as anyone else's. I was born here and I feel like the police are not respecting racialized people like they should."

With files from Matt D'Amours, Simon Nakonechny

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