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Quebec urged to review police use of force on kids after video of violent arrest

The video shows two police kneeling over a young Black male who is lying on the ground in front of a bus stop, with one officer placing his knees on the person's neck and shoulders. Provided by Frantz Benjamin

Opposition party Québec solidaire and a Black community group in Montreal are calling on the provincial government to introduce a policy governing how police interact with young, racialized people.

Their calls come following the arrest of a Black teenager last month, video from which appeared to show a Montreal police officer kneeling on the 14-year-old’s neck.

Images of the June 10 arrest outside Georges-Vanier high school in the city’s Villeray district have been widely shared on social media and compared to the May 2020 video of a police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Read more: Derek Chauvin sentenced to 22.5 years in prison for George Floyd’s murder

Québec solidaire member Andres Fontecilla and Marjorie Villefranche of Maison D’Haiti told a news conference Thursday police must stop racially profiling Black youth and arresting young people without cause.

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Fontecilla, the party’s racism critic, says the arrest is a clear case of racial profiling and more social workers and mediators are needed in the community.

Police have said they intervened after receiving a call about a dispute involving about 15 teens in front of the high school and are investigating whether the use of force was justified. They say two minors were arrested for possession of a weapon and obstructing police.

Read more: Politicians call for investigation over video of Montreal cops arresting Black youth

“They are kids,” Villefranche repeatedly told reporters. She says she knows the two teens who were arrested and says they had gathered to celebrate a friend’s birthday at the park in front of the school.

She says it’s unacceptable for police to restrain children using the same control techniques they use on adults.

“This technique of putting people on the ground and immobilizing them and humiliating them by putting their faces on the ground, I ask that it end and that it end for the Black community, because we have been sufficiently traumatized by this kind of thing,” she said.

“I can’t even understand that the police thought they could still do that.”

Read more: Asian mother calls on Montreal police chief to address teen daughter’s violent arrest

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