GRANDDAUGHTER OF TAP-DANCER ETHEL BRUNEAU VIOLENTLY ARRESTED AND MAIMED BY MONTREAL POLICE
Montreal, February 18, 2015 — The granddaughter of the legendary Harlem-born tap-dancer and tap-dance teacher Ethel Bruneau, Majiza Philip, is taking legal actions against a Montreal police officer for having beaten so hard during a police intervention last November that her left arm bone was badly fractured.
Ms. Philip attend a Machine Gun Kelly concert downtown, last November with a roommate who was detained in a police for being drunk. When she brought him his coat and told him that she would meet him at the police station, she was pushed and then jumped on by several officers, one of whom hit her hard and broke her left arm. Despite the badly broken arm and the intense pain, she was held in handcuffs at the police station and mistreated before an ambulance was called.
She spent the whole night in the St. Luc Hospital and was released in the morning. She was diagnosed with a fractured humerus. She got a cast put on for 5 weeks and eventually a metal plate with 6 screws.
Ms. Philip lost her full-time job as a cook and can not teach dance in a foreseeable future. In addition to lost income, she received the ambulance bill of $127.00. Since January, she has followed physiotherapy while experiencing all kinds of negative psychological effects caused by the violent police arrest and the traumatizing treatment in the police car and at the police station.
“I experienced such brutal assault and violation of my physical integrity,” she said. “At the police station pleading for help and crying in pain, I kept saying to myself “This is torture, it can’t be happening here!” and “Black Lives Matter!” The lack of humanity in these officers was astounding.”
“The way my granddaughter was treated by the Montreal Police reminds me of the way Black Freedom Marchers in the 50s and 60s were savagely arrested and beaten by the police and then left to suffer in agony in holding cells, without medical care,” said Ms. Ethel Bruneau.
Ms. Bruneau, known as “Montreal’s Queen of Tap”, has performed tap dance for more than 50 years in the U.S. and Canada, and was honored by the Black Theater Workshop in 2009.
“I demand a full explanation from the Police Chief, because if my granddaughter is not safe in the hands of the Montreal Police, then no other young Black person will be safe in the hands of the police,” said Ms. Bruneau.
With CRARR’s help, Ms. Philip has filed a police ethics complaint against the officer who beat her, citing excessive force, abusive fine and negligence about her health and safety during custody. Earlier this month, the Police Ethics Commissioner considers the case serious enough to bypass conciliation and send it directly to investigation. Other legal actions are being considered.
“This incident shows why we need the Bureau of Independent Investigations off the ground now”, noted CRARR's Executive Director Fo Niemi, referring to the independent office set up by the Quebec Government almost two years ago to inquire into police actions resulting in serious injury or death. The Bureau is expected to be operational only at the end of 2015.