Hundreds rally in Quebec to protest cop killing

By Joe Young
August 23, 2021
Militant/John Steele

REPENTIGNY, Quebec — Some 400 people rallied at City Hall here Aug. 4, just east of Montreal, to protest the police killing of Jean René Olivier.

Olivier was shot three times in the stomach three days earlier by cops responding to a 911 call from his mother, Marie-Mireille Bence, asking for help getting him to a hospital. He was having a mental breakdown, she told the dispatcher, and had a dinner knife. But, family members say, Olivier, who was black, put it down before he was shot.

“Instead of helping me, they assassinated my son,” Bence, above, told the rally. “When the police act like that they are criminals.” Olivier’s son Kayshawn also spoke, demanding the police release the names of the cops who killed his father.

Several area residents took the microphone to testify to harassment they have suffered at the hands of the police because of their skin color. The mood of the participants was angry. The crowd was majority black, but many Caucasians and people of other nationalities took part.

Yvelie Kernizan, who said she had organized a rally a year ago protesting the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, carried a sign reading, “Who do you call when the police kill us?”

A representative of Lakay Media, a nonprofit organization promoting multiculturalism that organized the protest, read a series of demands toward the end of the rally. They included calls for greater control over and more training of the police and mandatory use of body cameras.

Members of the Communist League joined in the rally. The day before, Beverly Bernardo, CL candidate for mayor of Montreal, visited Bence to express sympathy and support in the family’s fight for justice.

“We join in demanding the cops who killed your son be charged and prosecuted,” Bernardo said.