On a cold winter day in Montreal this past Friday, January 6, police bullets took the life of Farshad Mohammadi, a Kurdish refugee from Iran who arrived in Canada seeking security and protection. Farshad was inside the métro seeking warmth, homeless in a city and country that failed to provide the support and social solidarity necessary for an Iranian refugee dealing with post-traumatic stress relating to experiences in Iran.
Last night inside Montreal’s Bonaventure metro station, people gathered to remember Farshad. In response to the preventable death, artists and community members came together in an action organized by the Howl! arts collective to call for an end to police violence, to stand in solidarity with the homeless and to call for accountability for the police involved in the shooting death of Farshad.
Several artists performed at the vigil, and local anti-police brutality activists spoke to the crowd. In this beautiful video by Heri Rakotomalala, you will see performances by community activist and artist Norman Nawrocki, folk singer Bobby Dove, Québec solidaire politician Amir Khadir, community radio activist Aaron Lakoff and activists from the Committee Against Police Brutality in Montreal.
Across Montreal, people are shocked about the second police killing of a homeless person in the past year — only months ago, Mario Hamel, who was struggling to survive on the streets, and bystander Patrick Limoges were killed by the police. A crisis of confidence in police practice is rising in Montreal. As no clear steps toward accountability for police involved in shooting civilians have been taken, the number of grassroots protests against police brutality and killings is on the rise over recent years.