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Montreal police investigating racist video allegedly created by local teens

Montreal police said Tuesday they're investigating a racist video that has been circulating widely online and features two girls believed to be local high school students.

It's unclear when the video was created, but it shows two girls in blackface, singing and dancing as they direct a stream of slurs and insults towards Black people.

A spokesman for the Montreal police confirmed the force was aware of the video and had opened an investigation, but did not confirm the identities or ages of the two girls.

However John Rennie High School in Pointe-Claire, a suburb west of Montreal, posted on Facebook on Monday that it was co-operating with investigators regarding a video created by two students. 

"This morning, we were made aware of a video that had been posted by two students," the school posted. "The video contained very inappropriate images and racist comments."

Kemba Mitchell, the chairperson of the West Island Black Community Association, said she was unable to watch all the way to the end of the video because it was so disturbing.

"I am so upset," said Mitchell. "But this isn't new to us. This is our reality."

Mitchell said the video was clearly planned and rehearsed, and was not a simple spontaneous rant.

Speaking for herself and not her organization, she said it should be treated as hate speech and the creators should be prosecuted accordingly.

However, she made it clear the video was not an isolated incident, and it shows a wider failure to address racism by the girls' parents, the school and the wider community.

"I think it's a community effort that needs to be here, because these are not the only girls in the West Island, or in Montreal or in Canada who have put a video like this out, or who have this mindset," she said.

She said if the alleged perpetrators are eventually required to perform community service, the West Island Black Community Association is open to working with them and educating them on the contributions of Black Canadians.

The Lester B. Pearson School Board wrote to say it was "horrified" by the video's "disturbing and patently racist" content, and devastated to learn it was posted by students at one of its schools.

"There is work to do for all of us and this incident is a stark reminder of this fact," the board wrote on its website.

"We denounce racism and, as educators, we commit to work together with the community to lead positive change."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 16, 2020.

Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press

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