Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante defund police

Valérie Plante addresses the movement to defund police forces

Protesters across North America are calling for the defunding, disbanding and reforming of law enforcement.

In a press conference about financial aid for Montreal businesses this morning, Mayor Valérie Plante was asked about the movement to defund police forces. This notion of redirecting bloated budgets from increasingly militarized police forces in major cities across North America to social service and mental health organizations has arisen from the anti-Black-racism protests that have been unfolding over the past two weeks.

“Specifically about defunding, this is a big conversation,” Valérie Plante said. “I am open to this, but I don’t want to work in (a vacuum). I think it would be a mistake to just start in the SPVM. I think we have to look at this: here in Quebec here in Canada, how do we want to move forward? The SPVM has always been strong in the community approach.

“Since we took office, we made all the sessions of public security open to the public, especially with the street-check policy,” she added.

The Montreal police (SPVM) have often been criticized for police brutality — most egregiously killing innocent Black men (Anthony Griffin in 1987, Bony Jean-Pierre in 2016 and Pierre Coriolan in 2017, to name a few), as well as killing or injuring other visible minorities, as well as the homeless and mentally ill — not to mention a heavy-handed approach to crowd control at demonstrations, including at last Sunday’s protest, where tear gas canisters were used on peaceful protesters.

Yesterday city councillors in Minneapolis, where the murder of George Floyd took place, announced their intention to disband, if not defund, their police force. Other American cities have experimented with this and had some success.

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