A demonstration was held Friday by the Justice for Nicous Spring Action Committee. Spring was a 21-year-old Black man killed during an altercation at the Bordeaux Prison on December 24, 2022 after guards reportedly fitted his head with a spit hood and pepper-sprayed him.
Spring was supposed to be released from Bordeaux after a bail hearing held on December 23 – the day before his death.
“We’re downtown on these streets to let them know we’re not going to be silent,” said Nanre Nafziger, community organizer, Justice for Nicous Spring Action Committee. “The family is here, we’re trying to give them all the love and support that they need – and we’re happy the community came out.”
“The community’s giving support to the family and we want to be heard,” said one Montrealer at the protest.
“I’ve known Nicous my whole teenage years, and this is very tragic that something like this could happen.”
The rally began at the Roddick Gates of McGill University at 1 p.m. and continued to the Montreal Courthouse.
“We need justice and we need it now,” said another Montrealer at the event.
In a press release, the group organizing the demonstration says “Nicous D’Andre Spring was a talented poet and artist, son, uncle, brother, mentor, and friend to many. Nicous was invested in youth centers such as West Haven, the YMCA-NDG TeenZone, J2K, and the Rec.”
“No mother should have to bury her child. Black mothers should not have to live in fear of the heart-shattering phone call that Nicous’s mother and so many other Black mothers receive that they have lost their son to the cruel hands of the state. We will fight for Nicous, and for his family who have lost their beloved,” said Nanre Nafziger, a community member, educator and parent.
The Justice for Nicous Spring Action Committee has a list of 10 demands, among them; that the footage of Spring’s death be released, that testimonies from other prisoners who were present at the time be heard publicly, an apology, that citizens be involved in the inquiry process, that a civilian oversight board be instated, that the officers involved and their supervisors be fired, prosecuted and their names released to the public, that the reasons for Nicous’s arrest and continued illegal detention be made public.
The Chief Coroner of Quebec has ordered a public inquiry into the death of Nicous D’Andre Spring and a Bordeaux jail correctional officer and manager were suspended.
The Public Security Minister’s office, for François Bonnardel, said by email to CityNews that they cannot comment on this case due to several ongoing investigations, but did provide this statement from Bonnardel: “I would like to see all the light shed on the events surrounding this death. To this end, several investigations are underway, including the coroner’s public inquiry. This additional step provides transparency to ensure public confidence in our prison institutions. We will let the authorities do their job. Mistakes made will have to be owned and answered. I will ensure that the department takes all actions to avoid such a situation in the future.”
The committee is also calling “for an end to over-policing and racial profiling of Black, Indigenous and racialized communities that leads to a disproportionate incarceration of people of African descent in Quebec and Canadian prisons.”
The group cites a November 2022 report by the Correctional Investigator of Canada which revealed that Black prisoners represent 9.2 percent of the total incarcerated population despite representing only about 3.5 percent of the overall Canadian population. More than a third of them are young Black men aged 18 to 30.
In a statement, Montreal police tell CityNews: “We would also like to reiterate the importance we place on combating racial and social profiling. That being said, at the time of his death, Mr. Spring was in the Montreal Detention Facility (Bordeaux), which falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministère de la Sécurité publique du Québec (MSP).” And referred us to the Minister’s office.
“The Montreal detention facility (Bordeaux prison) is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Public Security. Out of respect for the ongoing investigation process, which concerns the provincial government, we refer you to the Ministry,” said the City of Montreal in a statement.