Disturbing footage mirroring the 2020 arrest of George Floyd has emerged out of Canada, sparking immediate backlash.
Disturbing footage of a police officer kneeling on a teenager’s head has emerged out of Montreal, sparking immediate backlash from the community.
The incident, captured in a 90 second video by an anonymous bystander, occurred at a bus stop on June 10. The unnamed police officer can be seen restraining the 14-year-old as another officer searches his bag and pulls out what he alleged to be a stun gun.
The police officer holds his knee on the unidentified child, who did not appear to be resisting, for approximately 15 seconds. The teenager appeared to already be handcuffed before being held in the neck restraint.
According to a spokesperson for the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM), the officers were responding to a call from Georges-Vanier High School about a fight involving more than a dozen young people from a number of local schools.
The incident is currently under police investigation.
“If the use of force is not justified, the administration will take the required actions,” SPVM Inspector David Shane said in a statement.
Inspector Shane said a number of arrests over possession of weapons were made that day, claiming the viral clip only showed one half of the story. He says before the clip began, officers approached two teens and confiscated pepper spray.
The second teen who was seen in the video allegedly reached into his backpack while pushing officers away, prompting the officers to pounce.
“What we need to point out as well, during an intervention, the person who has the initiative, is always the suspect. Police have to react accordingly and with proportion,” he told CBC News.
Former SPVM sergeant and training instructor Stéphane Wall said officers were currently allowed to kneel on a suspect’s neck, however brief, in order to force a surrender. However, once the suspect is handcuffed, the knee should be moved towards the shoulders and back.
Outrage over ‘shocking’ footage
A chorus of opposition erupted in Canada after the footage, obtained by Radio-Canada, began circulating on social media. The incident has now brought the US’s fierce and ongoing debate over police brutality to north of the border.
“Is it because my son is black?” the boy’s furious mother asked in an interview with. “It’s not because we’re black that we have to experience those kind of things. We’re humans. Poor child.”
The 14-year-old is reportedly now scared of going outside after the incident.
“One year after the death of George Floyd, and we still have that kind of scene in Montreal,” executive director of Montreal’s Center for Research-Action on Race Relations, Fo Niemi, said. “It’s very disturbing.”
Sociologist Frédéric Boisrond, who recently became an adviser to Montreal’s police force to help reduce racial biases in policing, said the optics of the now viral incident weren’t good.
“A youth handcuffed with one knee on the throat – that brings us back to rather disturbing images. I didn’t expect to see that in Quebec in 2021,” he said.
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, a mother of a 15-year-old, questioned the use of brutal restraining techniques by police.
“I’m not a police officer, but I do have questions, like, should we still be using those techniques?” she told the press.
Liberal member of the Quebec National Assembly Frantz Benjamin said the incident would likely spark “collective trauma” in the black community and called for an immediate investigation in a letter to police chief Sylvain Caron.
“It‘s shocking,” he said. ”It’s even more shocking when we see there was no resistance.”