MONTREAL (CityNews) – Two videos have been circulating online sparking outrage.
The videos show two Black Montreal teens, six officers, the youth on the ground, and police with their knees on the teens’ necks and faces.
The incidents happening in Montreal’s Villeray borough on June 10. An investigation is underway. Politicians are denouncing the incidents, and the lawyer for the teens is speaking out.
Montreal police report responding to a call over a fight at Georges Vanier High School, where they arrested the two teens on the spot.
In both videos, police officers are seen kneeling on the teens’ faces and necks for several seconds.
WATCH: Video of teens being arrested by Montreal Police
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“Why do we need six officers to neutralize one black kid?” asked Fernando Belton, a lawyer and president at the Legal Clinic of St-Michel. “It’s unacceptable for a police officer to put his knee even for one second on a 14-year-old kid.
“In one of the videos you can actually see that my client is actually on a wall and he’s waiting for the police officers, and we see what kind of force is used to put him on the floor and actually cuff him, which is actually unnecessary force. If that was a white person, a white girl of 14-years-old, would that kind of force be used in that particular situation to arrest them, and the obvious answer for everyone is ‘no’.”
Belton adds that he believes things are not at a point of changing for the better, but might be getting worse. A point that was echoed by the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR).
“This is one year after the death of George Floyd, we thought that that death brought upon some changes in the way that police makes their interventions based on, in this case, physical force, especially that kind of intervention technique, but obviously that’s not the case,” explained Fo Niemi, executive director at CRARR.
Montreal police tell CityNews that the school asked for assistance from the local station to help control a recent uptick in fights after school. On June 10, a call came in about a fight involving about 15 young people.
On the scene – they arrested two teens for carrying weapons – one being a taser.
In response to the videos, SPVM says: “The analysis of the intervention and use of force carried out by the police in this event is currently underway. Following the analysis of the situation, the manager of the PDQ 31 will take the appropriate follow-up actions, as the case may be.”
“We need to have those body cameras, we’d been putting it together when I was mayor, that pilot project. And it seems that we’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting, everybody wants it, and I think that we need two sides all the time,” said Denis Coderre, former Mayor of Montreal.
“I know that the police officers are using different techniques, and I’m not an expert, I’m not a police officer but I do have questions about: should we be using those techniques still? And that’s why the motion that was voted unanimously for me was about pressing the SPVM to requisition these techniques,” said Valérie Plante, Mayor of Montreal.
Last August, Montreal adopted a motion calling for an immediate end to the use of intervention techniques that block breathing by police officers – like the ones seen in both videos. The motion states that these techniques should only be used by police as a last resort.
But, many are saying that’s not nearly enough and are calling for an end to what they say is ‘blatant police brutality’. Adding there needs to be consequences, because it’s more than physical scars for those who survive events like these.
“The level of trauma is real, it’s deep, and it’s long-lasting PTSD could be real consequences for people that can last for years,” said Niemi.