Demo for Homeless Shooting
Police Accountability Called Into Question
Protesters, activists, members of the community gathered at Bonaventure Tuesday night. Photos Corey Pool
MNA Amir Khadir spoke at the assembly to address the issue of Police use of force. Photos Corey Pool
Iranian-born artist and activist Shahrzad Arshadi spoke at the demonstration. Photos Corey Pool
A group of demonstrators gathered at Bonaventure Metro Tuesday night to condemn the death of Farshad Mohammadi, a homeless man killed by police inside the station on Dec. 6.
Mohammadi, an Iranian refugee, was reportedly shot three times in the back after attacking an officer with an edged weapon. The officer was sent to hospital with cuts on his neck and chest.
He was the second homeless person killed by police in less than a year.
“We came here today to remember Farshad Mohammadi,” said Stefan Christoff, an activist and member of the art collective Howl!, who were responsible for organizing the demonstration.
“We are here to stand in solidarity with all victims of police violence and to stand in solidarity with the homeless,” said Christoff.
The demonstration featured speeches and performances from local musicians, artists and activists speaking out against police violence, while addressing the issue of homelessness in Montreal.
“It is very sad to think that [Mohammadi] came here as a refugee to be safe, to live a new life and he can easily be shot three times in his back and be killed,” said Shahrzad Arshadi, an Iranian-born artist and activist who came to Canada as a refugee 28 years ago.
“As a proper society, we should be able to help a man in his position, not to kill him—there are no excuses,” said Arshadi.
The demonstration focused on a lack of accountability from the police, and emphasized an ongoing criticism of the use of excessive force.
Albert Sleiman, Mohammadi’s former landlord, told The Gazette that he had approached Mohammadi three times about his behaviour. He suggested Mohammadi was mentally unstable and said he was occasionally violent, threatening neighbours and his landlord on more than one occasion.
In December of 2011 Mohammadi was evicted from his apartment in St. Henri.
“We need specialized places for people like that,” Sleiman said. “Some people need 24-hour surveillance.”
Mohammadi’s death has raised concerns about the state of the programs and facilities put in place to assist Montreal’s mentally ill and its homeless population, which reportedly numbers around 30,000.