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Pierre-André Normandin May 22, 2012
“It’s unacceptable. Fundamental civil rights have been trampled here. Police should be here to maintain order, absolutely. I’m a businessman and I need that. But, that a police officer decides to come into my place of business and arbitrarily arrests someone who happens to be the owner, no way,” decries Dominique Dion.
PHOTO: NINON PEDNAULT, LA PRESSE
A restaurant owner denounces his arbitrary arrest Saturday night while inside his business on St. Denis Street. Dominique Dion says his only crime was to wear a red square pinned to his chest.
“It seems to me that there are some police officers who are losing control and that stains the reputation of the whole force,” declares the owner of Zero8. Dominique Dion doesn’t hide the fact that he supports the students. He feels he owes his business success to his Masters degree, “paid for by the people of Quebec.”
Saturday night, protests reached a boiling point on St. Denis Street near his restaurant. Tension quickly built as two bonfires were lit at the corner of Ontario Street. Close to 11pm, Dominique Dion decided to open the doors of his restaurant, which to that point had been closed, to allow people seeking refuge on his patio to escape the tumult via the back alley. “There weren’t any thugs. Nobody was wearing a mask,” he assures.
Images captured on his security camera, posted online yesterday, show police officers arriving on the scene. Dominique Dion affirms that an “aggressive” officer grabbed him, forced him to his knees on the patio, and placed him under arrest. The restaurant owner says he spent six hours in custody before being released. He was charged with no crime, and received no ticket.
“It’s unacceptable. Fundamental civil rights have been trampled here. Police should be here to maintain order, absolutely. I’m a businessman and I need that. But, that a police officer decides to come into my place of business and arbitrarily arrests someone who happens to be the owner, no way,” decries Dominique Dion. The restaurant owner, whose adventure left his wrists bruised by the plastic tie-wrap handcuffs, plains to lodge a complaint with the Police Ethics Committee (Comité de déontologie policière) and to file a civil suit against the Montreal Police Service (Service de police de la Ville de Montréal or SPVM).
“I won’t defend the indefensible. Nobody is perfect, nobody gets a 100% grade. Police officers are human, they’ve been there for the last 100 days, they’ve worked close to 250 protests. If people think an officer has done something wrong, there’s the code of conduct,” declared Commander Ian Lafrenière, spokesperson for the SPVM, reacting to such first-hand accounts.
Dominique Dion is not the only person to denounce the methods deployed by police. One man, who says police beat him without cause, visited several bars on Ontario Street yesterday asking owners if security cameras had captured the incident.
Several witness accounts are circulating online. Two videos in particular have been viewed by thousands of internet users. One shows a police officer pepper spraying protesters who refused to back away. In the other, a patrol car is seen pushing a young man who clings to the hood before falling away to the side of the vehicle. Commander Ian Lafrenière encourages caution when interpreting such images. “You’d have to be a bit stupid to try and stop a car with your bare hands. Meanwhile, others were throwing projectiles. The officer left because, had he stopped in the middle of a crowd on the edge of a riot, what would he do then? He would have been pelted with many projectiles.”
Translated from the original French by Translating the printemps érable.
*Translating the printemps érable is a volunteer collective attempting to balance the English media’s extremely poor coverage of the student conflict in Québec by translating media that has been published in French into English. These are amateur translations; we have done our best to translate these pieces fairly and coherently, but the final texts may still leave something to be desired. If you find any important errors in any of these texts, we would be very grateful if you would share them with us at email@example.com. Please read and distribute these texts in the spirit in which they were intended; that of solidarity and the sharing of information.