Group demonstrates in memory of Fredy Villanueva
The Canadian Press
Published Saturday, December 13, 2008 6:51PM EST
MONTREAL - About 40 protesters braved the cold Saturday to play a symbolic game of dice in the same Montreal park where 18-year-old Fredy Villanueva was shot and killed by police last August.
The demonstration was organized by a group opposed to police brutality to denounce the decision by Quebec's attorney general not to lay charges against a police officer involved in the Villanueva shooting. An investigation cleared the officer.
Quebec's public security minister, Jacques Dupuis, has called a public inquiry into the incident, though no date has been set.
"We're 75-per-cent happy because we wanted a public inquiry," said Will Prosper, spokesman for Montreal Republik, who is calling for an independent body to investigate police shootings.
In Quebec, investigations are performed by a separate police force.
"We need to adjust the system," Prosper said.
"It needs to be fair for everybody. Police should be investigated the same way as everybody else."
The Montreal police officer who shot Villanueva first approached him while he was playing dice, an activity that contravenes a Montreal bylaw against games of chance.
Francois du Canal, spokesman for the Collective Opposed to Police Brutality, wanted to highlight a series of bylaws-- meant to prevent so-called "incivilities" -- that he said are used unjustly by police.
"There's so many bylaws that exist that people don't know much about but the police use them for discrimination to harass people because they're youth, people of colour, or because they're poor," he said.
"This is what we want to denounce today. We'll see if they try to give tickets to people who play dice and if they will take out their guns because they feel so threatened."
Police were present at the demonstration but said they were only there to ensure it remained peaceful and safe.
Villanueva's death sparked a night of riots and led to accusations of racism against Montreal police.
Demonstrators also plan a second demonstration at Montreal's City Hall on Monday.