By N Oji Mzilikazi
9 August 2016
The heavy snow and icy cold of winter can be so overwhelming, extended, and depressing, when summer arrives, Montrealers are about extracting as much heat and fun as is possible from its short stay.
Saturdays, especially when steaming hot, tend to be lazy days; days where persons want to do nothing except to “lime,” chill, hang-out, kick back, “shoot the breeze,” play dominoes, play cards, barbecue, play in the park, be in the park, watch girls go by or simply have a cold one in one’s backyard with family and friends.
It was on one such day, smack dab in the midst of summer — Saturday August 9, 2008, to be precise; a confluence of events brought a premature end to summer — for numerous residents in Montreal North.
The bright golden rays of the sun had successfully displayed its strength. Tired, it had changed to a mustardy haze, a heads-up to its withdrawal of light, the waning of the evening, and a signal of preparation for older folks to take their young charges home.
For teenagers and young adults, the transition from evening to night is no intrusion or impediment to their enjoyment, but a seamless extension of the laissez faire attitude of relaxation, having fun and doing whatever.
In such a spirit, a dice game was going on in the parking lot behind the Henri Bourassa arena. The spirited voices of its participants and spectators complemented and added to the clamour and sounds endemic to summer.
Effective policing necessitates police officers patrolling/make rounds to reassure citizens; ensure public safety, enforce laws, and be a visual deterrent to anyone with criminal intentions.
Patrolling, Constables Jean-Loup Lapointe and Stéphanie Pilotte espied the aforementioned group. They recognized one Dany Villanueva in the group and decided to take him into custody. From there, the unfolding events got murky.
One thing is certain. Against a background of raucous and angry voices of objection in regards to 22-year-old Dany Villanueva being arrested, gunshots rang out overshadowing all other noise and sounds — bringing panic in its wake.
In their aftermath, two members of the group; 18-year-old Denis Meas and Jeffrey Sagor-Météllus, 20, had been shot; one in the arm and the other in the back, and Dany Villanueva’s younger brother, 18-year-old Fredy Villanueva was dead. All three unarmed Latino young men had been shot by Constable Jean-Loup Lapointe.
The killing of Fredy Villanueva and the shooting of Meas and Sagor-Météllus served as added nails of police abuse, police repression of non-white communities and police unjustified killing of its members. Peaceful protest morphed into rioting, and parts of Montreal North went up in flames.
The heavier police presence and palpable tensions resulted in summer taking on the stress and discomfort of winter. Except for the angry, and the young with raging hormones, many residents of Montreal North chose to cut their stays outside as short as possible.
As has historically been the case with police shootings of unarmed citizens in Quebec, as well as charges of racial profiling, police abuse and police brutality from “visible minorities” (The official designation; term to describe Canada’s non-white inhabitants excluding Aboriginals.), the media decided to forgo their trappings of journalistic integrity to be the hacks, propaganda machinery and shapers of public opinion for the police. This shooting and killing was no different…
An excerpt from my soon to be published: The Killing of Fedy Villanueva: Policing, Race Bias & Media Complicity In Canada.