Quebec Superior Court Justice Louis Dionne has been recommended by Geneviève Guilbault to conduct an inquiry into the wrongful arrest and detention of Mamadi Camara by the Montreal police (SPVM) on Jan. 28. Camara was charged and held for six days for assaulting police officer Sanjay Vig in Parc Extension, but charges were subsequently dropped due to surveillance video evidence. There has been widespread criticism of the SPVM and calls for an independent inquiry.
“As Minister of Public Safety, my first concern is to prevent innocent people from finding themselves in situations similar to the one experienced by Mr. Camara,” Guilbault said in a statement today. “The confidence of our citizens in our police and judicial institutions is at stake.”
In a press conference this afternoon, Quebec Premier François Legault was asked about whether the handling of Camara by Montreal police is proof of systemic racism.
“I think we don’t have enough information to know if it’s a case of racism,” Legault said. “I think that Mr. Dionne will be able to answer this question about the motivation for what happened. Could it have been the same if it were a white person? We need to have these answers. I can understand that people want to have these answers.”
When pressed by the reporter about specifically “systemic” racism (which Legault has consistently refused to acknowledge), the premier said, “I’m talking about racism, I’m not talking about systemic racism.”
Meanwhile, Camara — who reportedly lost a job following his detention, had his house ransacked by police and was treated aggressively during his arrest — is considering suing the SPVM.