A coalition of community groups is calling for an end to gun violence in their communities.
Community workers and residents from various Montreal boroughs gathered at Don Bosco Park in Rivière-des-Prairies (RDP) Thursday to say enough is enough.
The rally, organized by a group of community organizations from across the city, was in response to a shooting in RDP on Aug. 2, in which three men were killed and two were inured and the increase in violent gun crimes in the city this summer.
But it came a day after two more shootings within 24 hours, including one in RDP. Nobody was injured.
“You know, wearing a gun and waving it all over the place is kinda normal for a lot of people and it’s not supposed to be,” pointed out Beverly Jacques, a rally co-organizer.
Caroline Bourgeois, borough mayor and city of Montreal executive committee member responsible for public security, who also attended the rally, said the violence is unacceptable.
“It’s really hard to hear citizens talk to me about how they feel unsafe,” she told Global News.
Residents and community groups say it’s up to them to find solutions to fight what they see as a crisis. Pierreson Vaval of community group Équipe RDP believes people who live in the communities should take the lead.
“Because the solution is going to be one of a general mobilization around a general concern about the youth, their future their security,” he explained.
“But it cannot happen without us.”
He added that authorities need to listen to residents, but some living in the communities admit it’s not always easy for racialized groups, who sometimes don’t trust the authorities, to get involved.
“The community isn’t always in good terms with them,” said RDP resident Cesia Matute, who lives not far from one of the shootings.
Still, she believes, people need to try.
One of the solutions to the crisis, Jacques believes, is to give youth the support they need, and listen to them.
“They slip through the holes and the cracks and then someone else is gonna pick them up, and take care of them,” Jacques said.
The groups stress that they need all partners, and not just police.
For their part, Montreal police say they are continuing to work with communities.
On Wednesday, police arrested a 32 year-old man in connection with another RDP shooting May 8. In a press release, the police department wrote that when he was arrested, “he was carrying a handgun on his belt, ammunition and a prohibited magazine.
“Searches carried out at the suspect’s residence as well as at another place frequented by the latter also found evidence related to the event of May 28, as well as $ 29,000 in cash.”
The Aug. 2 shooting is still under investigation.