On Friday, the Forum Against Police Violence and Impunity will begin a weekend-long conference to address police brutality in the Montreal area. The conference will bring together organizations and individuals in Parc-Extension to discuss for workshops and panel discussions.
Speakers will address topics such as gender-based violence, political repression, and youth and racial profiling in Montreal, with workshops conducted in French and English to inform participants of their rights. The forum will close on Sunday evening with an event titled “Beats Against the Police,” showcasing MCs, musicians, rappers, and other performers.
Nazila Bettache, one of the organizers of the forum, noted that the lack of transparency and accountability in the police force is one of the main recurring issues that will be covered at the conference. “There is no justice when youth are killed and harassed on the streets,” Bettache said.
Police violence has come under increasing scrutiny in Montreal following the fatal police shooting of teenager Fredy Villanueva in August 2008.
Earlier this month, eyebrows were raised when the City of Montreal blocked the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission from investigating alleged racial profiling by police.
Gabriella Pedicelli, who will speak at this Friday’s opening panel discussion, said, “All the issues are systemic. The problems are embedded in the structure of policing, one of them being systemic racism, which is often denied by the policing organization.”
Trained as a police officer in 1989, Pedicelli eventually decided not to join the police and turned to police activism instead. Her book, When Police Kill, garnered public attention around police violence in Montreal and Toronto following its release in 1999. Pedicelli has remained a strong police critic. “I do think it is important to understand why we became disillusioned,” she said.
The conference will run from January 29-31 at Centre communitaire de Parc-Extension, 419 St-Roch. Free admission, schedule available online at www.forumcontrelaviolencepoliciere.net.