About 300 protesters gathered in Montreal’s Nelson Mandela Park Wednesday night to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in response to the latest police killings of black men in the U.S.
The Côte-des-Neiges rally was filled with poems and speeches to motivate Montrealers to speak up about injustice everywhere.
Poet Svens Télémaque addressed protesters with a poem on stereotypes about black people.
“My skin is not a cover to a book you’ve already read,” he read.
“So, you can forget the reviews on your local news. Fast forward to my introduction instead, acknowledge here at fallen, dedicated to false pretensions, all your pre-phased judgements through the media and subliminal messages are sending a title, which is other than my name.”
“You haven’t gotten to the table of content of my character. You judge me all the same, why?”
Protesters then marched along Victoria Street to make their voice heard even further.
Among the demonstrators was Michael Farkas, the president of the Round Table on Black History Month.
He acknowledged that the plight of Canada’s black community is not the same as in the U.S. and suggested it could be because of Canada’s stricter laws on firearms.
Farkas said he believes there is much progress to be made north of the U.S. border.
“The police has done a lot of mistakes. If we had iPhones in those times, maybe some of them might have been picked up,” Farkas said.
“So no, I don’t think we’re exaggerating this story at all. We have to be careful because we are not in the same context as in the United States.”
Some protesters said they believe there is a systemic problem in the policing of not just black people, but all visible minorities.
Since a Montreal police constable shot and killed Anthony Griffin in 1987, the Black Coalition of Quebec said not much progress has been made.
The coalition’s president and founder, Dan Philips, said social inclusiveness is the key to resolving the problem.
“They reach a point where people who have not been given justice, who feel like they have nothing to lose, they will commit any act because they have no stake in the state,” he said.
Some say they fear policing methods are marginalizing Montreal’s visible minority communities.
At the rally, Ricardo Lamour announced the creation of a black summit in Montreal North, with the intention of creating a dialogue with politicians.
“We need to structure our forces and go and make demands to the mayor of the borough,” Lamour said.
“We gave her five demands, we dropped demands also at the police headquarters – PDQ 39 – and those demands include asking a commission of systemic racism.”
“We need to make sure that we have justice and we have a safe net to prevent the death of black people: the political death, the social death, the financial death and the physical death of people of colour, indigenous communities.”
More Black Lives Matter protests are scheduled to take place in Montreal in the coming days.