On August 8th, 2008, I’d made it a month into being fourteen. About to start eight grade, I had a million things to worry about with back to school shopping, and then the world as I knew it suddenly stopped. Two members of the SPVM, the police force of Montreal, notorious to Montrealers for their hyper-presence at the end of the month looking to rack up extra tickets and horrendous treatment of people of colour, were involved with the gunning down of Fredy Villanueva
. I didn’t know this young man, who’s life was drastically cut short at the age of 18, but I’m sure he was like most of the guys I grew up with; the cards dealt against them before they were even born. To be honest, I remember being surprised when it reached the news. Growing up on the corner of Cote-St-Luc and Walkley, I can’t tell you how many violent interactions perpetrated and antagonized by the police I’ve seen, stories that never made the news no matter how slow the day. In the world I lived, and still currently live in, people of colour do not matter, especially if you are on the darker side of the scale. Thankfully, Fredy’s case, although it did not receive justice unsurprisingly, did not go quietly into the night. On August 10th, Montreal-North erupted into rioting, and Fredy from that day on will never be forgotten.
I’m no longer in high school now, and since Fredy’s unlawful and unnecessary murder, nothing has changed. I’ve travelled throughout North America enough to know that the police are not for me to put trust in, and I’ve got friends in Europe
and the “United Kingdom
” that will probably tell you the same. Black lives don’t matter in America, and much less those of black women who go from the front-lines of movements spearheading change to being chalk outlines with no one in a rage for them. We can no longer turn a blind eye to what’s going on around us when your brothers and sisters are dropping left and right. This is not a problem of America, but a global problem of race and racism in countries that would never be what they are today if it wasn’t for it.
Black people have been tortured for years on a sliding scale in every way imaginable, but the news is focused on cracked windshields on police cruisers. The uprisings that I was waiting for growing up able to recognize the sticky smell of blood and hot pavement in the summertime are here. From the banlieues of Paris following the unnecessary deaths of Zyed and Bouna
scared of what would happen to them if the police sunk their claws into them, to Fredy’s life taken from him on a warm day way too quickly, to Michael’s body left in the middle of the street riddled with police bullets, and now Freddie Grey who doesn’t have to suffer the various pains inflicted on him by the Baltimore Police Force that ultimately broke his spine in several different places, I am happy to see you all upset. These men did not die in vain, and the women who have been taken away from us in the same manner deserve the same kind of anger.
Martin Luther King Jr., who rolls in his grave every single time white people misquote him, was assassinated by the American government despite being non-violent. Non-violence in a violent country with a system based on oppression will not work. There is only so much straw you can put on a camel’s back before it breaks. As brother Yasiin would say, it’s all mathematics.
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