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Video shows Montreal police officer pushing homeless man into concrete block; SPVM investigating

By Brittany Henriques
Posted Apr 30, 2022, 3:07PM EDT.
Last Updated Apr 30, 2022, 6:47PM EDT.

A video (https://montreal.citynews.ca/video/2022/04/30/video-shows-montreal-police-officer-shoving-homeless-man/) of a Montreal police officer pushing a homeless man into a block of concrete has caused outrage online, with politicians and advocates calling the officer’s actions “unacceptable.”
The 17-second video posted to TikTok on Thursday showed two officers intervening to remove the man from what appeared to be a small encampment in Montreal’s Chinatown.
While it appears a discussion is taking place, one of the two officers approaches the man and pushes him away from his encampment. The homeless man stumbles and falls to the ground, appearing to hit his head against a large concrete block.
The officer then grabs the man, picks him back up onto his feet, and shoves him further from the encampment. He then gestures for him to get away.
In a statement to CityNews, Montreal police says it has launched an investigation into the incident.
“The way to intervene with homeless people, and frankly with everybody, is with patience, humanity and understanding,” said James Hughes, the president and CEO of Montreal’s Old Brewery Mission. “And it looks like they did the exact opposite.
“Remember homeless people, while very diverse, share a number of things: trauma, loss of housing, loss of income, loss of social networks. They’re individuals who are at wits’ end in most cases, and those who live on the street are even more vulnerable and the last thing that we need to do and that police officers need to do is act in a violent way.”

Some advocates say the video exposes a wider systemic issue.
“This is happening more and more often and it’s extremely unfortunate and one of the these days someone’s going to get hurt real bad or killed,” said Joel DeBellefeuille, the founder of Red Coalition – an organization dedicated to ending systemic racism in Canada.
“We’re in 2022 and we’re still talking about these situations that should be past us. We should be way far in the future than what we are right now when it comes to police relations interacting with people of colour. Come on.”
Reactions from politicians poured in Friday night as the video was shared widely on social media.
Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante said she was shocked by the images, calling it unacceptable and that it does not reflect the great work of the SPVM.
The incident took place away from busy streets, leading advocates to say it’s more proof things like this happen when police think no one is watching.
“It’s so important to film, to protect not only yourself but to protect the public as well,” said DeBellefeuille.
Yves Francoeur, president of the Police Brotherhood, stated a less than a week ago that officers are tired of seconds-long videos taken “out of context.”
But some argue violence is never an excuse.
“The actions of both officers involved in intercepting what appears to be a homeless person was violent, it was demeaning and it clearly depicts those actions that the officers did in that video,” added DeBellefeuille.
The advocate says despite progress, this is another example of why SPVM funds need to be redistributed to intervention groups that can better handle these sorts of situations.
One of those groups would be the Old Brewery Mission, which already works closely with Montreal police. The shelter trains new force members on how to work with people experiencing homelessness.
“They are not always equipped,” said Hughes.

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