Anti-racism group calls for release of video in connection with Montreal jail death
A Montreal-based anti-racism group is calling for the immediate release of any existing video evidence of a physical altercation that took place in a city jail and led to the death of an illegally detained man just before Christmas.
Nicous D'Andre Spring, 21, died at Montreal's Bordeaux jail on Dec. 24 when guards fitted his head with a spit hood and pepper-sprayed him twice. A judge had ordered Spring be released from the detention centre the day before, but he and two other inmates were still in custody a day later.
The Red Coalition, a non-profit lobbying organization assisting Spring's family, held a news conference Saturday morning. They said authorities have left the family in the dark concerning their son's death.
Alain Babineau, Red Coalition spokesperson and former RCMP officer, said it would "only make sense" to have any relevant detention centre video footage released directly to the family so they can get some of their questions answered "once and for all."
"There are versions of the people at the scene, but the family doesn't believe it, the community doesn't believe it, and what better than a video to understand what happened, like during the police intervention?" said Babineau.
The group made several other demands, including an investigation by Quebec's ombudsman into whether systemic discrimination played a role in Spring's death, a public coroner's inquiry, an independent autopsy and the creation of a citizens' committee to oversee the Quebec correctional system.
"The idea here is a question of trust," said Babineau. "When the community has lost faith in government institutions, including those that work for the government institutions ... by having this independent inquiry ... as well as an independent autopsy, then we'll give some reprieve and solace to the family."
Spring's relatives were initially expected to speak at the news conference, but elected not to do so on the advice of their legal council.
Since Spring's death, a manager and a prison guard have been suspended pending the results of several investigations, including from the provincial police and the coroner's office.
According to the Red Coalition, Spring's death is further proof of systemic racism in Quebec's correctional institutions — something Premier François Legault and the Coalition Avenir Québec government have repeatedly refused to recognize.
David Austin, a humanities professor at John Abbott College and a member of the group, says this case is part of a pattern of systemic racism that has spanned decades. That's why, he said, the group is asking the Quebec ombudsman to look into alleged systemic discrimination linked to this case and others like it.
"We know that Black folks are disproportionately arrested and detained and incarcerated, right? All of this is factually true," he said. "And it's absolutely true that the absence of recognition that there's a systematic, systemic, ongoing structural problem to do with race in this country contributes to and facilitates the kind of actions that we've seen."
Spring appeared in court on Dec. 23 on charges of assaulting a peace officer, criminal harassment and possessing a weapon for a dangerous purpose. He was also facing two counts of failing to comply with a condition of release. He had pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Quebec's Public Security Ministry has described Spring's detention as "illegal" because he was ordered by a judge to be released on Dec. 23 but was still behind bars the next day when he suffered injuries leading to his death.
This First Person article is written by Tait Gamble, who lives near Williams Lake, B.C. For more information about First Person stories, see the FAQ.
Dominic Cozzolino and James Dunn each scored twice as Canada defeated the Czech Republic 5-0 on Saturday in the semifinals at the world Para hockey championship in Moose Jaw, Sask.
Ferry crossings between Wood Islands, P.E.I., and Caribou, N.S., have been cancelled Sunday morning, according to an announcement by Northumberland Ferries Ltd.
The Prairies Climate Change Project is a joint initiative between CBC Edmonton and CBC Saskatchewan that focuses on weather and our changing climate. Meteorologist Christy Climenhaga brings her expert voice to the conversation to help explain weather phenomena and climate change and how they impact everyday life.
Wendy Bahm and her husband have owned their ranch for over 40 years. Located about 45 kilometres from Fort St. John in northeastern B.C., it sits on private land and is home to approximately 200 cattle.
Since 2015, the City of Hamilton has shared the same name as the famous musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda, but now the municipality and the Broadway production have a little more in common.
Andrew Buchanan, a firefighter based in Strathcona County, says he can't talk long. Wildfires are moving quickly, and there's no guarantee an alarm won't sound while he's on the line, drawing him back on the job.
Rebuilding housing in the province can start once the immediate crisis of tackling wildfires is over, says the president of the Construction Association of Nova Scotia
The creative hub at 44 Gaukel Street in downtown Kitchener, Ont., turned out to be everything city staff envisioned when council approved $775,000 to launch the pilot project in 2018. The hub was opened a year later and quickly became known by many simply by its street address: 44 Gaukel.
It's a piece of Canadian Indigenous history — and an effort is underway to ensure the 88-year-old Arctic fur-trading ship, called the North Star of Herschel Island, stays in Canada.
Canada's chief electoral officer is planning talks this fall with federal parties to discuss riding nomination races — which may have been targeted for manipulation on at least one occasion by Beijing.