Black Lives Matter Movement Hits Montreal

Hundreds Gathered To Show Support For Toronto Demonstrations

  • Roughly 250 people gathered to show support for Toronto demonstrations. Photo Natalia Blaster

  • Demonstrator speaking at BLM protest at Norman Bethune Square. Photo Natalia Blaster

  • Demonstrator speaking at BLM protest at Norman Bethune Square. Photo Willie Wilson

  • Roughly 250 people gathered to show support for Toronto demonstrations. Photo Natalia Blaster

As Black Lives Matter activists in Toronto continued two weeks of protests outside police headquarters, hundreds gathered in downtown Montreal last night to show solidarity.

Roughly 250 people attended the demonstration that took place at Norman Bethune Park on Tuesday, March 29. It started at 6 p.m. and lasted for two hours.

The gathering was a response to the acquittal of a Toronto police officer who fatally shot Andrew Loku—a black, 45-year-old father of five—and was a show of support for those in Toronto who have been protesting the acquittal for over a week.

“The message that we’re trying to get across is that black bodies are always targeted in very particular and violent ways by police,” said Sumaya Ugas, co-organizer of the Montreal Black Lives Matter demonstration. “That violence always goes with impunity and were saying ‘fuck that shit.’”

Loku, a man from South Sudan who survived 16 years of civil war and had a history of mental illness, was wielding a hammer on the night of July 5, 2015 inside his neighbour’s apartment in Toronto, when he was shot by police.

Eight months later, on March 18, Toronto Police Department’s Special Investigation Unit announced that the police officer—whose identity hasn’t been released—wouldn’t face criminal charges.

Since that decision, Black Lives Matter activists have protested in front of Toronto PD headquarters, opposing both the verdict and what they believe to be a lack of transparency on the part of the city.

The demonstration in Montreal featured different speakers and artists, including spoken word poet Shanice Nicole.

The event had few disturbances and little police presence.

Those in attendance felt it’s important to push back not only against police violence in the United States, but also in Canada where the same problems exist.

“Toronto is the city Canada uses to show how ‘multicultural’ it is, and we just hide our problems behind this beautiful banner of multi-ethnicity,” Ugas said.

The crowd at the event was predominantly white.

“I feel like I can count the black people here on my hands,” joked black protester Chelsy Monie.

But Jake Smith, a white protester in attendance, felt it was important to show support, regardless of race. “I’m just here to listen and be an ally,” he said.

As the protest came to a close, Cherrilyn Birchwood, a black demonstrator at the event, took the microphone and shouted out, “You can’t consume black culture and not take care of the people who make it.”

Then the speakers blasted “Alright” by Kendrick Lamar, and the crowd began to dance.

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