Dice tournament at Henri-Bourassa park: Don't gamble with our lives!

Montreal, December 11, 2008. - The Coalition against Police Repression and Abuse (CRAP) reveals its plans for Saturday, December 13th. The population is invited to participate in a dice tournament at Henri-Bourassa Park to defy the bylaw invoked by authorities to justify the police intervention which led to the death of Fredy Villanueva. Police regularly use municipal bylaws in a discriminatory manner to target people because of their skin colour, age and social class. It is the absurdity of the use of these municipal bylaws that we will be denouncing on Saturday.


The CRAP would also like to raise new questions relating to the recent decision not to press charges against officer Jean-Loup Lapointe, a decision that was made before Judge Robert Sansfaçon had even opened session for the public inquiry. We know that it is not the first time that Judge Sansfaçon has presided over a public inquiry into a police intervention resulting in a man’s death. Judge Sansfaçon had in fact presided over a public inquiry in 1986-87 into the death of protester Gaston Harvey who died following a choke hold effected by a Surete du Quebec police officer. At the time, Quebec’s Attorney general waited until after the public inquiry to decide whether to press charges against the officers involved.


In the Villanueva case, the government once again called for Judge Sansfaçon to preside over the public inquiry. However, unlike the Gaston Harvey case, the authorities responsible for criminal prosecutions did not await the public inquiry’s findings before announcing their decision not to press charges against the officer who shot Fredy Villlanueva. 


Both cases involve police killings that each in their own way impacted popular opinion in Quebec. In both cases, the politician who was exercising the function of Attorney general was member of a Liberal government. And yet the current liberal government chose to proceed in the opposite way in the Villanueva case, clearing the police officer before a public inquiry has even been held. The government has given no explanation for this dramatically different treatment.


The suspicious links between Jean Charest’s Liberal party and the powerful  Montreal Police Brotherhood also raises disturbing questions. How does the Charest government explain the fact that two ex-Brotherhood presidents ran as liberal candidates in the last two elections? Yves Prud’Homme, liberal candidate in the Rousseau riding in the March 26, 2007 election was president of the Brotherhood from 1988 to 1998. Then George Painchaud who was Brotherhood president from 2001-2005, ran as the liberal candidate in Vachon in the most recent electoral campaign 


In closing we would also like to announce another protest on Monday, December 15th at 6pm at Montreal City Hall to denounce the fact that Mayor Tremblay stopped us from attending the Municipal Council at our protest on November 24th. Although we only wanted to ask him some questions, mayor Tremblay responded by deploying an army of police for a peaceful demonstration and locking the City Hall’s doors from the inside with thick metal chains. On Monday we will once again attempt to have our questions heard by the mayor and let him know loud and clear that we will never again tolerate unpunished police abuse. We hope that he won't try to silence us again.