Fondé en 1983 --Unis pour la diversité et l'égalité raciale


Montréal, August 8, 2019 — In what is treated as an “outrageous” case of “Cleaning the Car While Black”, an English-speaking Black man in his forties was intercepted, detained, threatened with arrest and fined while taking out the garbage and cleaning his Mercedes Benz outside his home in NDG.

The egregious incident took place two days ago, around 16:30 when Kenrick McRae, while taking out the recycling, decided to stop and collect any additional garbage in his car parked in front of his building.

While he was filling a plastic bag with empty coffee cups and soda cans from his car, a police car drove by and stopped at the intersection of his street before suddenly reversing and parking parallel to his car. The male officer first asked McRae who the car belonged to, first by calling him “Boy,” before inquiring about the contents of a black stout bottle which was protruding through a hole in the plastic bag. McRae explained that the car was his and that the bottle was garbage and empty.

Both officers quickly exited their vehicle. The female officer asked McRae to identify himself. When McRae asked her why he needed to identify himself and what he had done wrong, she said that she suspected he was under the influence and took the empty stout bottle from the plastic bag. Threatened with arrest if he did not show identification, McRae gave the officers his driver’s license, registration and insurance.

“There is no doubt that Mr. McRae was street checked or “carded”. This illegal practice, which amounts to racial profiling, involves the police using general investigative powers to randomly target and check African-Canadian men”, said Alain Babineau, CRARR Advisor and a former RCMP officer.

“We believe the SPVM used the Highway Safety Code as a pretext to force Mr. McRae to produce his driver’s license so they could identify him and enter him in their data base”, he added. “This incident raises serious questions about the SPVM’s Plan of Action on racial profiling, as the officers’ actions go against everything the Plan seeks to correct and prevent, ” he noted.

Three more patrol cars arrived on site and McRae was eventually given a ticket of $486 for “being the driver of a road vehicle, having consumed alcoholic beverages”.
“This is outrageous racial profiling,” McRae said. “It’s a bogus charge and an abuse of police power that keeps happening to me, because I have a Mercedes”, he added.
“Like many Black men I know, I’ve had to constantly face ‘Driving While Black’. Now it’s “Cleaning the Car While Black.” It’s ongoing harassment by the SPVM and the City,” he said.

“There seems to be an internal SPVM policy to target Black men regardless of ages or status in the name of law and order! This is systemic racial profiling at the highest degree and it must be stopped!”, Babineau noted. “Mr. McRae has valid reasons to fear for his safety and to lose confidence in the police”, he added.

During the incident, McRae expressed his willingness to cooperate and take a field sobriety test and a breathalyser test. However, no tests were performed. The officers took his empty stout bottle as evidence.

In the last two years, CRARR has assisted McRae file several complaints with the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission, and the Police Ethics Commissioner. The most serious incident took place in March 2017 when McRae was abusively intercepted in NDG, arrested and handcuffed by two Montreal police officers who later seized his cam recorder and erased the recording of the intervention. Both officers appeared before the Police Ethics Committee last June to face multiple misconduct charges.

Another active complaint involves an incident in August 2017 when McRae was pulled over while driving in Lachine and told that he had no license plate attached to his car. When he got out his car to check this assertion, his license plate was visible and well-attached to the car.

CRARR will once again help McRae file new civil rights and police ethics complaints against the officers involved in this latest incident.