The Shame of Montreal – SPVM Brutality Over a Noise Complaint

What the fuck SPVM? You guys we’re the no.5 top local twitter feed on Cult #Mtl’s BOM list; frankly I expected better.

Le Devoir is reporting that the man wrestled to the ground in the video above is the proprietor of a business on The Main, part of which was closed to traffic Thursday for the MURAL festival. It was a typical street fair, in which the businesses habitually extend their services out onto the street and we’ve seen on The Main countless times. It’s crowded and loud, not my cup of tea, but something I think we’re all quite accustomed to.

Apparently another business owner thought the man (owner of or somehow involved with La Vieille Europe) was playing his music too loud and called 911.

Why that individual didn’t first contact a representative of la Société de développement du boulevard Saint-Laurent or the festival organizers is beyond me, and frankly I think its a bit much to call 911 for a noise complaint during a street festival. Perhaps it was a dirty trick to tank La Vieille Europe’s business, like when competing nightclubs send their stooges to set-off pepper spray canisters in the air ducts of their competitors.

In any event, according to police spokesperson Ian Lafrenière five constables were dispatched to deal with the ‘large and well-built’ individual – this is standard practice, apparently, and after about eight minutes of negotiation, the proprietor refused to turn down the music and was ordered to place his hands behind his back, an order the mena refused.

It’s at this point that a smaller, more cowardly constable decided to use a choke-hold to bring down the man. Again, according to Lafrenière, this is standard operating procedure for the SPVM.

He then relates that this incident will be reviewed (internally) and that Montreal police aren’t infallible.

Well isn’t that dandy.

Let’s step back – a noise complaint necessitated an arrest?

How would you react?

Handcuffing someone (without their consent) is a major violation of individual liberty. In the case of a dangerous criminal it’s thoroughly justified, but for a noise complaint?

Noise complaints typically result in a fine that’s all too often contested in court.

But five constables wrestling a man to the ground with a choke-hold? That’s excessive.

The crowd was, as you might imagine, passive and resorted to filming this act of police brutality rather than intervene to help. I can understand why. Just last year we got a chance to witness a mass of police brutality incidents, and it hasn’t been too long since the SPVM just up and shot somebody under questionable circumstances. A hospital worker, a teenager, a homeless man – the SPVM has a bad history when it comes to needlessly killing Montrealers.

In any event, a damned shame I’m glad was caught on video. The SPVM has been moving away from acting in the public’s benefit for a while now, and the secretive ‘Police Brotherhood’ has proven itself unwilling to cooperate with civilian authorities to review practices and allegations (all too often with widely disseminated video evidence) of police brutality.

Which makes me wonder – with the powerful organized crime syndicates, street gangs and all manner of criminal problems we have in this city, why isn’t the SPVM making more of its resources available to combat the real criminal problems in our city? Dispatching five constables to take a man down over a noise complaint is simply a blatant waste of resources and abuse of the people.

And while some are saying it would have been so simple (and a non issue) if the man had simply complied and but his arms behind his back, I can only say this – how much individual freedom are the people willing to lose? What are we willing to compromise for the benefit of the police?

With the NSA spying scandal unravelling it’s becoming increasingly clear that Western governments (the supposed guarantors of liberty and personal freedom) have in fact been spying on their own populations and people all over the globe through electronic means for quite some time, all without any oversight or public knowledge. Well haven’t things changed now – the United States has been working out of a Stasi handbook with more sophisticated tools. And though they, much like our own government, military and ‘law-enforcement’ officials have said this is to keep us safe and secure from terrorism, they only seem to be capable of taking down the dumbest, most inept terrorists. At the local level, it seems as though police – who are supposed to serve and protect the public – are instead being used to oppress and monitor them.

This isn’t what I signed up for.

Montreal needs a transparent police force that brutalizes less and thinks a bit more before they act.

Shame.

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