In the Old Brewery Mission‘s dining room, a sadness prevails and people say the atmosphere is tense.The death of a homeless man shot by Montreal police last week has left itinerants and employees angry.“Why did this guy get hurt? He wasn’t carrying a gun,” said Mission employee Robert Casina. Story continues below
Montreal’s Old Brewery Mission steps up to heal police-homeless relations
Old Brewery Mission CEO speaks out after Montreal police-involved shooting
“I don’t understand why they shot at him. He has no gun. There is always that fear that one day a misunderstanding will happen and someone will get shot.”The shooting happened outside the Mission; police said they were responding after a homeless man made threatening gestures with a knife.READ MORE: Old Brewery Mission CEO speaks out after Montreal police-involved shootingMontreal mayor Denis Coderre is urging caution on judging police behaviour, noting that an inquiry is underway.“It’s always a concern,” Coderre told Global News.“We are talking about a human being, but we have to understand what happened and what is the result of that.”But later that same night, police had some sort of altercation with an itinerant inside the Mission’s cafeteria.READ MORE: Armed man shot and killed by Montreal policeWitnesses said officers were overly aggressive with a homeless man after he yelled an expletive at them.WATCH: Old Brewery Mission CEO, Montreal police chief discuss shooting of homeless man
The incident was captured on surveillance video, but the Mission doesn’t want to release it for fear it will inflame relations with police.Cake worker Antoine Auger-Morin said the two events have cast a dark cloud on work being done at the Mission, and have even seen some clients leave.“It brought them back to their pasts that they are trying so hard to leave and it kind of, like last week, it brought them back there,” said Auger-Morin.“This won’t be easy to overcome.”Mission president and CEO Matthew Pearce hopes a meeting he had with the Montreal police chief on Thursday will thaw tension.WATCH BELOW: Matthew Pearce talks about efforts to make to improve relations between Montreal’s homeless and the police.
Pearce insisted better training, frequent dialogue and a greater, regular police presence at the Mission – including serving suppers and coffee – will improve the current situation.“It’s not very trusting. Homeless people feel they are treated differently by the police than other people,” Pearce told Global News.“Homeless people feel they aren’t safe with the police.”WATCH BELOW: Security footage of altercation between homeless man, Montreal police
Pearce said he would also like to see the policeman involved in the altercation last week apologize to the homeless man.READ MORE: Old Brewery Mission CEO to speak to Montreal police chief about shooting of homeless man“I think the symbol of him apologizing would be very well received here and I think it would be very meaningful. Tough assignment for him but he’s the one who created this situation,” he said.Pearce added that the police force has promised to work quickly on establishing an action plan with him.The first meeting is scheduled for next week.
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