Villanueva event organizers butt heads
Hoodstock, vigil Groups plan to mark one-year anniversary of police shooting
By JASON MAGDER, THE GAZETTE
August 1, 2009
Lilian Villanueva stands beside pictures of her son Fredy Villanueva, during a vigil at Henri Bourassa park to remember his death a month ago, in Montreal, September 09, 2008. Her son was shot and killed by police during an altercation at the park.
Photograph by: (THE GAZETTE/Phil Carpenter)
People who want to know what’s wrong in Montreal North need only look as far as the competing events marking the anniversary of Fredy Villanueva’s death, a community leader said.
Villanueva, 18, was killed last Aug. 9 during an altercation with police in a parking lot behind the Henri Bourassa arena. The death sparked a riot the following day in which one police officer was shot and injured and the neighbourhood fire station was torched.
Will Prosper is the spokesperson for Montréal Nord Républik, which is organizing two days of events called Hoodstock. He lashed out at a group called Coalition Montréalaise de la Non Violence, for holding a news conference yesterday outlining a vigil they plan to hold to mark the occasion.
“The problem is that many groups are battling for money rather than fighting for the community of Montreal North,” Prosper said.
He said one of the organizers of the vigil, Brunilda Reyes, is running as a candidate for Vision Montreal in the coming municipal election and is using the event for political gain.
“It would have been nice if they had at least told me what they were doing,” Prosper said.
Reyes denied Propser’s charges, and said her event isn’t competing with Hoodstock.
“Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I have been organizing in Montreal North for 12 years,” said Reyes, who heads the food bank Fourchettes de l’Espoir. “I don’t even have time to respond (to Prosper’s accusations).”
Several people in Montreal North said they worry that the flood of government money that flowed in to the area after last year’s riots isn’t being spent on the people who need it most.
“There is a lot of guilt money that was just thrown at these organizations, and it isn’t going to the young people,” said a 47-year-old Montreal North resident who lives near where Villanueva was shot. He didn’t want his name published for fear of reprisals, but said the security in the neighbourhood has not improved since the riot.
“We don’t go out after 7 p.m. any more,” he said. “We see more police during the day, but at night, we’re still scared to go out.”
Jacques, 38, another resident said government money would be better spent on creating jobs.
“The biggest problem here is poverty,” he said. “People don’t want to live on welfare, they want to have a job, own a house and a car. If people are going to work every day, they won’t be on the streets at night causing problems.”
Hoodstock starts on Saturday, Aug. 8, with a social forum during the day and a concert at night at Parc Aimé Léonard, on Gouin Blvd. at the corner of St. Gertrude Blvd. There will be a march on the night of Aug. 9, beginning at the park and ending about three kilometres away at Parc Henri Bourassa, near where Villanueva was killed.
The vigil will be held in the parking lot of the Maison culturelle et communautaire de Montréal Nord on Aug. 9 between 3:30 and 5:30 p.m.
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