by Lucho Granados Ceja (of Barrio Nuevo) Basics Issue#10 (Aug/Sep 2008)
In the middle of the night on August 10, 2008, youth from Montreal-Nord took to the streets to express their outrage with the racist actions of the Montreal Police. Protestors marched through the streets and set fires to cars and trash. A fire station was also burned.
The youth were responding to the police murder of 18-year-old Honduran youth Fredy Villanueva the night before, on the evening of August 9. According to witnesses, the police approached a group of youth who were playing dice and became aggressive with the group of youth. Fredy’s brother, Dany Villanueva, was singled out by the police to be searched without cause and ultimately arrested. After Dany was placed in the back of the police car, the situation quickly escalated and the police fired four shots without warning, killing Fredy. Police have refused to explain themselves for their actions. The Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations in Montreal has called for a public inquiry as a result.
It is clear that the actions taken by youth on the night of August 10 are merely the boiling over of anger towards a history of racism and misconduct by police in Canada, especially toward racialized youth. The murder of Fredy Villanueva is not an isolated incident. Just last year, Toronto police murdered unarmed teenager Alwy Al-Nadhir in a similar unprovoked attack, and earlier this year, 28-year-old Native man Byron Debassige.
Communities subject to racist policing need not tolerate it anymore. Although the riots on the night of August 10 certainly got the public’s attention, it cannot bring lasting solutions. Our communities must create a broad-based movement to end racist police brutality all together.
Police must not be allowed to “investigate” each other so as to cover their own backs. We must demand justice for the murder of Fredy Villanueva, but moreover, we must organize ourselves if justice is going to be realized.