Quebec announces $65M in funding despite criticism of anti-gun squad
New Montreal police anti-gun squad accused last week of unfairly targeting Black men
Quebec Safety Minister Geneviève Guilbault has announced $65 million in spending on work by police forces in the province to counter organized crime and firearms trafficking.
The announcement comes days after a Concordia University teacher revealed Montreal police's new anti-gun squad has already made 31 arrests, most of whom are Black men.
Of the total amount, $19.5 million will go to Quebec provincial police, more than $4 million will go to Montreal police and $3.9 million will go to Quebec City police.
The rest will be distributed to cross-police force teams specialized in fighting organized crime, as well as to other municipal police services.
"Organized crime, street gangs, violence in general in criminal circles aren't taking a break with COVID-19," Guilbault said at a news conference Tuesday, adding there have been a number of recent firearm incidents in Montréal-Nord and Old Montreal.
She said several times that she had seen an increase in violent crime reported "in the media," but did not provide any statistics to back up the claim.
Last week, Concordia associate professor Ted Rutland released a report based on access-to-information requests he made to Montreal police, which showed 74 per cent of the arrests of its anti-gun squad, dubbed Quiétude, had been of Black men.
Rutland said the findings showed Montreal police are continuing to practice racial profiling, noting most of the Black men the squad arrested were not charged with firearms-related offences, but drug offences.
In a statement, Montreal police defended itself, saying its officers conduct investigations "by using proven methods, without discrimination and without racism."
It added that the unit's investigations were based on tips from the public and informants.