Advocates calling for effective solutions regarding police violence

"We have a problem with impunity," said Alexandre Popovic, a spokesperson for the Coalition Against Police Repression and Police Abuse. On Tuesday, advocates held a panel to address police violence in Quebec. Swidda Rassy reports.

Advocates are calling it an obligation to society, seeking effective solutions to address police violence in Quebec to ensure a safer community for all its members.

“We have a problem with impunity over there,” said Alexandre Popovic, spokesperson for the Coalition Against Police Repression and Police Abuse.

“The police officers when they intervene with people with mental distress should have a legal obligation to deescalate and they should face consequences if they fail to do so.”

On Tuesday, dozens showed up in-person and virtually to share their experience with police violence in Quebec.

“What we want to do is to continue the movement. Continue to denounce,” said Pierre Richard Thomas, president of LAKAY.

Popovic adds, “Since June 27, 2016, there has been 49 people who have been killed by the police.”

“I think that DPCP and those who make decisions not to charge police are part of the problem. There are several cases where the force can not be justified. In the case of Jean René Junior Olivier, it’s very clear in my head that there were true alternatives to lethal force.”

Two years ago, 37-year-old Jean René Junior Olivier was shot and killed by Repentigny police outside his home after his family called 911 and reported that he was experiencing a mental health crisis.

His family believes race may have played a role in his death however, a coroner’s report released two months ago claims that was not the case and that police employed de-escalation tactics.

The coroner found that officers tried to de-escalate the situation for nearly 14 minutes before opening fire when Olivier ran toward them with a steak knife. Police did not know he was holding a steak knife until after they shot him.

“You never know when we’re going to have to interact with the police and you never know when it’s going to turn out to be an event where something tragic happens,’ said Milidza Bence, cousin of Jean René Junior Olivier.

“I have a lot of regret because that day, if I didn’t call 911, he would’ve been alive today.”

Popovic adds, “It’s that way that you slowly build a movement to a point where it can strong enough to be heard and to be influential so that we don’t have those unnecessary tragedies anymore.”

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