A YouTube video posted in July appears to expose a case of police brutality against an Innu man in eastern Quebec. The victim in the video, 24-year-old Norman Mestenapeo of Unamen Shipu (La Romaine), claims to have been on his way to a convenience store in town when two Sûreté du Québec officers approached him.
The video, taken by a bystander from inside a car, shows the officers striking Mastenapeo repeatedly with their fists and a baton as he struggles on the ground. The moments leading up to the physical altercation were not recorded.
A SQ spokesperson said that the police force is aware of the video and is currently investigating the officers’ conduct as well as Mestenapeo’s behaviour.
The video raised concerns for many First Nations communities in Quebec. Ghislain Picard, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, demanded an immediate response from the provincial and federal governments.
“First Nations Elders, women and youth, in their communities or cities, are scared,” said Picard in an open letter to the public. “They are scared of things getting out of control again. It is not normal. It is not acceptable.”
Picard’s letter stresses the need to re-establish First Nations police forces in the Native communities where provincial authorities recently took over policing responsibilities.
At press time, the SQ’s investigation was still ongoing.