Khadija Bennis, whose brother was gunned down by Montreal police on December 1st in what looks like a case of racial profiling gone wrong (when does it ever go right?), is quoted in today’s Montreal Gazette saying that she fears police will sweep her brother’s death under the carpet.
Given this fear of a young man’s needless death being covered up and forgotten, it is instructive to review how the Gazette has dealt with this case so far.
After initially running brief police accounts of what happened immediately after Mohamed Anass Bennis’ death in early December (on pages A7 and A10), they did run one story which actually acknowledged that the Bennis family was having trouble believing the cops’ crazy version of events (on page A11) - but then nothing at all until this morning.
That’s because yesterday, as i wrote in my previous post about the police killing, there was a large demonstration demanding a public inquiry and “sensitivity training” for the police. I think i have a good idea of how many people were there as i have (sadly) gone to a number of such demonstrations in my life, and at yesterday’s i started at the back and then walked up to the front, turning around several times to take photos. I was there at 10:30am when it started and left shortly after noon, while speeches were still being made. My estimate is that there were between 1,500 and 2,000 people there.
Given that yesterday was the coldest day so far this winter – minus seventeen degrees – such a number constitutes a very impressive turnout. I can’t remember so large a demonstration against a police murder since Marcellus Francois was shot in the head for being Black back in 1991 (and seeing as he was killed in July those demos were in warmer weather). For a similarly large wintertime demo protesting a police murder, you’d have to go back to Anthony Griffin (who was also Black and was also shot in the head by a racist cop) back in 1987.
[There have of course been other large demos organized against the police, most notably the annual International Day Against Police Brutality protests that have so often ended in mass arrests – but these were organized and attended by left activists and were not in reaction to a specific police crime, and as such i think are different than the kind of protest we saw yesterday.]
So how did the Montreal Gazette cover yesterday’s demo? How did they describe the largest protest of its kind to have taken place in almost twenty years?
Page A2, with the smallest of photos; the article by Ann Carroll began: “As many as 200 people rallied outside Montreal city hall in the bitter cold yesterday to demand an independent inquiry into the fatal police shooting of Mohamed Annas Bennis on Dec. 1.”
“As many as 200 people.”
Like Ms. Bennis said, sweeping it under the carpet.
And look: the Montreal Gazette brought its own broom.
Categories: media, montreal, police, protest, racism