Gathering held for Nicous D’André Spring

Community members continue to call for justice a year after his death

Attendees of Saturday’s gathering wrote messages on posters for Nicous D’André Spring. Photo Russell Tellier

On the afternoon of Dec. 16, around 30 people gathered at Head & Hands, a community health organization in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, to remember Nicous D’Andre Spring and call for justice for him.

Spring, 21, died on Dec. 25, 2022, one day after he was put in a spit mask and pepper sprayed by correctional officers at Bordeaux jail. 

According to Quebec’s Public Security Ministry, Spring should have been released on Dec. 23 and was therefore being illegally detained when he died. 

Spring’s sister, Sarafina Dennie, called for the release of the video of Spring’s death. She also asked that the officers involved in his death be held accountable and have their names revealed. 

Saturday’s gathering featured speeches and performances by people who knew Spring. They described the type of person he was and recounted their memories of him.

“Nicous was just a gentle soul, a kind-hearted soul,” said Edwin Sanchez, who attended Jeunesse 2000 (J2K), a youth drop-in centre, with Nicous.

“I loved Nicous,” said Marcelle Partouche Gutierrez, who worked as an animator at J2K. “It was really easy to form a connection with him because he was so open.” 

Some attendees of the gathering contextualized Spring’s death by mentioning other Black men who were killed by law enforcement officers, such as Nicholas Gibbs. 

Earlier this year, Spring’s family called for an inquiry into systemic racism in Quebec’s jail system. Around that same period, hundreds of demonstrators marched to the Palais de Justice in Montreal to demand justice for Spring. This occurred two weeks after protests erupted in the United States over the death of Tyre Nichols, a Black man killed by police.

When asked what she would consider to be justice for Spring, Gutierrez responded by saying that she thinks policy recommendations aimed at fighting racial profiling should be implemented, and that law enforcement officers should be punished for their wrongdoings. A 2023 report on racial profiling released by the Montreal police force (SPVM) revealed that Black people are three and a half times more likely than white people to be stopped by police. 

Gutierrez also expressed support for defunding the police.

In 2020, poll data indicated that 54 per cent of Quebecers supported defunding the police. Nevertheless, the city of Montreal did not respond by decreasing funding for the SPVM. In fact, in 2024, funding for the SPVM will increase by $35 million and will total $821 million.

Sanchez said that justice for Spring could be achieved partly by giving life sentences to the officers responsible for his death. Sanchez defended that statement by noting that Spring was wrongfully detained. 
Likewise, Millicent-Ann Castillo, one of the gathering’s organizers, called for systemic change, accountability for law enforcement officers, and reparations for Spring’s family. 
“We are all hoping for [justice], and I think the fact that we’re all hoping and putting that vibration out in the air, something will come out of it, and hopefully it is justice,” Castillo added. 
At Dennie’s request, after the speeches and performances, the event’s attendees shouted “Justice for Nicous!” seven times, and held a moment of silence. Later on, they placed lit candles at the base of a tree. 

“The family is still grieving the loss of Nicous, a year after. It’s a difficult moment for them, and today was an opportunity for the community to gather and honour Nicous,” M’Mah Nora Touré, a lawyer for Spring’s family, said.