As a city of Montreal press conference was about to begin this morning, the local Defund the Police Coalition staged a protest in front of cameras to demand that the municipal government cut the SPVM budget by 50 per cent and reinvest in community support. The coalition, which includes members of 10 organizations representing a number of community groups (Black, Indigenous and trans Montrealers, sex workers and addiction support, among others), read out the names of Black men who have been killed by the Montreal police, beginning with Sheffield Matthews, who was shot on the street in NDG during a mental breakdown last month.
After the protest ended, Mayor Valérie Plante went ahead with presenting the city’s 2021 budget. The Defund the Police Coalition chose this occasion for their intervention because of a previously announced funding increase for the SPVM in the new budget. (For more about the issue, please read this article by Ted Rutland, who was present at the protest today.)
When asked about the push to defund the SPVM, Plante said that she thinks it is unwise to limit police resources during the COVID-19 pandemic, but is open to different ideas including social workers accompanying police officers on neighbourhood patrols.
The video of the protest and the entire press conference (shot by CityNews Montreal) is viewable here.
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