Leap into gun violence in Montreal, local groups call for a new approach – Montreal

As police in the Montreal area face an increase in gun violence linked to clashes between street gangs, community workers are calling on policymakers to focus on the root of the problem.

This week, representatives of community groups that work with the city’s black youth gathered in an eastern park to announce the launch of Coalition Poze, created to fight gun violence and lobby to end ” three decades of failure with the repressive approach. “

A longtime educator called the situation critical.

“It’s a community that has solutions, but unfortunately it is not always listened to,” Pierson Vaval, Team RDP director, told the gathering. “Unfortunately, it’s not always taken seriously, and unfortunately (it’s) often invisible at the decision-making table.”

Shootings have become more common since last fall, and this month there was a bloody wave that included three men killed on August 2 in a daytime shooting in Rivière-des-Prairies, in the northeast of Montreal. Three days later, Joas Jean-Baptiste, 31, was shot dead at his home in Longueuil, just south of the city.

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The last victim, on August 8, was identified by the Quebec coroner’s office as Wolf Duckerns Pierre Clermont, 22, shot dead in the Villeray district of the city’s north-central part.

Pierre Clermont was a local rap artist known as Jeune Loup (Young Wolf), who had gained local fame as a rising star. In an article by the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN), he was among the five Quebec rap artists to watch in 2021.

The wave of deaths has led local and provincial police to work together to stem the violence. Coalition Poze says strengthening the police force after an increase in violence could score political points, but ignores the root of the problem.

Beverley Jacques, who heads a sports organization in Montreal’s St-Léonard neighborhood that is part of the coalition, said lawmakers should consult with community groups regularly, not just in times of crisis.

“When things go wrong, suddenly they know where to find you, suddenly they want to talk to you, suddenly they want to have this conversation,” Jacques said in an interview.

He said young people are talented and creative and it’s about harnessing this part of their life from the start to keep them from falling into gang life. Jacques said that a seat at the decision-making table, stable funding and recognition is what these groups are looking for.

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“If we close (our) door, then it’s a chance for (young people) to find another chance that we don’t want them to take,” Jacques said.

A criminologist said she didn’t believe street gang violence would decrease anytime soon.

“It’s a war, not only between the Crips and the Bloods, but there is also conflict within the Bloods,” said criminologist Maria Mourani, a former MP. “We have a lot of gangs fighting, and here is the result. “

Accentuating the complicated struggle for power is the impulsive way gangs operate. “In gangs, they shoot anytime, however, anywhere,” she said. “If they need to fix something, they fix it.”

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Guy Ryan, a retired Montreal police commander, said solid intelligence will be needed to prevent such acts as the majority of victims do not cooperate.

Ryan believes the murder of a leading organized crime figure on Canada Day in Kanesatake, a Mohawk community north of Montreal, sparked the current violence.

“There were 20 incidents in July, we had four more in August and that’s a lot,” Ryan said. “One thing is certain, they are unscrupulous, spontaneous, unpredictable people.

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The shootings in recent weeks have taken place at all times and in various locations, creating a feeling of insecurity for those living in the affected neighborhoods.

They also create lasting trauma in young people, something that is not talked about enough, says the coalition.

Jacques said it was difficult to see children he trained or knew growing up falling into violence. For youth workers, this raises the question: what more could they have done?

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Citizens and politicians gather at Montreal RDP to denounce gun violence

Residents and politicians gather at the Montreal RDP to denounce gun violence – August 12, 2021

“In our streets, we are suffering, we are losing children we know, family members, friends,” said Jacques. “If it doesn’t affect the house, I don’t know what will happen.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on August 14, 2021.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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