“Despite the pain Lilian Villanueva lives through each day, she has not quit… She is still here. She is still standing up for truth and justice in the case of her son’s death.” As Margess said those words, she looked over at Lilian Villanueva and her family and friends who stood beside a vigil set up to honour Lilian’s son, Fredy Villanueva.
A group of over a hundred people gathered on August 9th to commemorate the fifth anniversary of Fredy Villanueva’s death.
5 years ago in the very same parking lot, Lilian lost her son at the hands of a police officer.
The “police officer, … pulled out his gun and without warning, fired on three youth in his field of vision. Hitting Fredy Villanueva with two shots to the chest…Freddy Villanueva, died two hours later. He was 18 years old at the time,” said Alex Popovic.
The government was forced to set up a coroner’s inquest to investigate the murder. “All the witnesses who testified, except for the police officer Lapointe, said that the shots fired by Lapointe were not justified. and that the youth, never constituted a threat to the police officer. Even Lapointe’s police partner, who was right beside him, testified that she never feared for her life,” said Popovic.
Despite the testimonies, the police officer was cleared and was recently promoted to the Montreal SWAT.
Will Prosper, a community organizer, worries that policing “is going to be even more severe for citizens.”
His concerns were echoed by many at the gathering. A mother of four recounted a traumatizing event she and her children recently faced at the hands of the police. While another community member, looked into the crowd of people and listed a dozen people in the crowd who had been victims of police brutality.
When asked about what was needed to change the current state of police repression, Prosper said, “We need to mobilize the citizens… We need to shed light on what happened and to bring a different message from those groups that are in place to maintain the system that is oppressing us.”
“[The government funded groups] want us to think that everything is great. They make some cosmetic changes, but they are not addressing the true problems we have in our community,” said Prosper.