Protesters March in Solidarity with Michael Brown

Activists Take a Stance Against Police Brutality and Racial Profiling

A photo from a previous vigil held for Michael Brown earlier this month. Photo Alex Bailey

Approximately 300 people gathered in Phillips Square to protest police brutality and racial profiling in the wake of recent events in Ferguson, Missouri on Saturday night.

The protest stemmed from the shooting and death of unarmed African-American Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson. The controversy was heightened by the recent decision of a St. Louis grand jury to not indict Wilson.

The protest in Phillips Square was held in solidarity with Michael Brown, with speakers and protesters showing support for the deceased teen as well as denouncing the current justice system. James Oscar, one of the organizers of the rally, spoke of his and his family’s experiences with racial profiling.

He said his uncle was murdered by police in Trinidad in 1968, prompting his family to leave the island for Montreal. Oscar continued with a recount of an incident where he was racially profiled in 1990 by Montreal police and falsely accused of armed robbery.

“I have been silent since 1990,” he said. “And I know now that to be silent is a luxury of privilege. Please, become one of the beautiful ones.

“Speak openly to all people in all walks of your life about this hole at the heart of our civilisation.”

Police monitored the event without leaving their vehicles. The protest went “smoothly and peacefully” with no arrests made, according to the police. At the last speech’s end, protesters marched east on Ste. Catherine St. with only two police vans in sight.

The march took up rallying cries of “Against police brutality—Montreal-Ferguson solidarity,” “No justice—No peace—Fuck the police” and “Hands up—Don’t shoot.” Protesters followed activists carrying a banner reading “Qui Nous Protège de la Police?” (Who Protects Us from the Police), some carrying homemade signs and others wearing Guy Fawkes masks.

Once the march reached Place Émile Gamelin, one of the organizers asked in French if the marchers wanted to continue. As a result, the march circled around and headed north on Berri St. The protesters passed through stalled traffic on Berri as many drivers honked their horns in support. Many onlookers illustrated support by raising arms and joining in chants.

The march ended outside the police station at Berri and Gilford, where police officers stood on the station’s steps to meet the protesters. For a short time the protesters stood outside and repeated their slogans, as well as “Nous on n’a rien volé” (We didn’t steal anything), the slogan of the Quebec municipal workers protesting against Bill 3, also found on the stickers coating station windows and police cars.