Seventh Annual Vigil for Victims of Police Killings Continues
Questions Still Remain
Grey skies and freezing rain on Oct. 22 didn’t deter Bridget Tolley’s from attending a vigil to commemorate the death of her mother 15 years ago.
“My mother Gladys Tolley was struck and killed by the Quebec Police in 2001,” said Tolley to the small crowd gathered and huddled together under umbrellas on Gilford St. at the seventh annual vigil for victims of police brutality.
“Today we want to honour and remember all the people stolen from us by the police, and we want to continue to remember them,” she added.
Tolley, a founding member of the group Justice for Victims of Police Killings, has repeatedly called for answers following the death of her mother.
“It’s been 15 years and we want justice; we want it now—we deserve it,” she said. “We continue to call for an independent investigation into the death of my mother.”
Tolley accused the Quebec Police of engaging in conflicts of interest by overlooking wrongdoings committed by members of their own police force.
In June, the Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes began investigating incidents where a person was seriously injured or died as a result of police action.
Tolley said the officer in charge of investigating her mother’s death was the brother of the officer that killed her mother. “With the BEI—it’s police investigating police,” she went on. “We’re not satisfied.”
The case was closed without a proper investigation, according to Tolley. “They never told me; they never told the family. Nobody was notified until a reporter told me 13 months later.”
Today, Tolley still has no answers and she continues to call for her mother’s case to be reopened, and for the Quebec’s Minister of Justice to take action.
“The only way we’re going to get justice is if we talk to them ourselves or if we talk to these guys behind us,” she said, turning to face the wall of policemen behind her on the steps of Montreal’s police union headquarters. “It’s been hurting 15 years. You guys know it’s wrong; you guys can say something.”
Julie Matson also attended the vigil. She said her father, Ben Matson, was killed by the police fourteen years ago.
In May 2002, Vancouver police intervened after a parking dispute involving Ben Matson escalated. Police forced her father into a prone position and kicked him so violently, she said, that he died choking on the contents of his own stomach.
“This is our seventh year and the one thing I wish was that we weren’t adding more names [of victims] to the list,” Matson said. “But unfortunately we are.”
“I think the rain today is appropriate,” Tolley said. “I feel it’s tears from up above: Happy tears because we’re here and sad tears because our cases are not being done right by the Quebec police, by the RCMP and the Native Police.”