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


Montréal, November 17, 2019 — A Black private security guard scores a legal victory with his complaint of racial profiling against the City of Montreal, and one of its police officers with a long record of police ethics violations dating back to 2002.

In a decision forwarded to the parties three weeks ago, the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission asks the City of Montreal and officer Éric Locas to pay Rivelino Bélizaire $15,000 in moral damages and $3,000 in punitive damages.

Locas is a 24-year veteran with more than 10 years in traffic safety. On February 4, 2016, Bélizaire, who is of Haitian background, was stopped by Locas for jaywalking near his workplace. Upon stopping Bélizaire, Locas, in a hostile tone, asked him to repeat his name four times in order to give him a ticket. Locas claimed that he found Bélizaire’s name “not easy to understand.” Locas gave him a $48 ticket for jaywalking.

The next day, Locas came to Bélizaire’s workplace in order to complain to his supervisor about his attitude.

Considering Locas’ conduct abusive and discriminatory because of his race, Bélizaire filed a complaint with the Police Ethics Commissioner. With CRARR’s help, he also filed a complaint of racial profiling with the Human Rights Commission.

In January 2018, the Police Ethics Committee ruled that Locas breached s. 5 of the Code of Ethics for Police Officers, for failing to act in such a manner as to preserve the confidence and consideration that his duties require, “for going to meet Mr. Bélizaire’s supervisor for improper ends.” The Committee deemed that such “meeting was inappropriate and inconvenient… definitely exaggerated, or even uncalled for, and it could produce serious consequences for Mr. Bélizaire.”

In light of Locas’ seven violations and four appearances before the Committee between 2002 and 2017, the Committee imposed a suspension of 12 days without pay. In addition, the Committee suggested that Locas be provided remedial training in “dealing with the public.”

In July 2019, Locas was sanctioned by the Committee in another case involving an Arab driver, bringing his record of misconduct charges to 9 between 2002 and 2018.
“Of course, I’m happy with the Human Rights Commission’s decision because it confirms what the Police Ethics Committee did not: that I was racially profiled from the moment I was intercepted to the time the officer went to report me to my supervisor”, said Bélizaire.

“To force me to repeat a name like mine many times, and to denigrate me in public like that – it just shows you how this officer lacks the required competency and respect for ethnic diversity to work in a multiracial city like Montreal”, he said.

For CRARR, what is also disturbing about the case is that the officer involved has had several sanctions for misconduct and that the five citizens who filed complaints against him are people who are Arab, Black, South Asian, Italian and Anglophone
“I believe there is a pattern of repeat abusive and discriminatory behaviors here. The SPVM must have a more robust internal disciplinary mechanism to deal with “serial violators”, than the one they currently have”, said CRARR Advisor Alain Babineau.

“We have here a very good example of racial profiling and systemic failures in the SPVM’s internal mechanisms, which cannot detect and prevent such discriminatory conduct from occurring repeatedly. How many more evidence of racial bias, as well as absence of professionalism, respect and equity must be displayed, before the SPVM takes action against repeat offenders in profiling and abuse cases?”, asked Babineau.

According to CRARR Executive Director Fo Niemi, “Mr. Bélizaire’s case shows the need for the annual public reporting of all complaints, grievances and lawsuits involving discrimination, harassment and profiling, as we recently recommended in our presentation on systemic racism to the Office de consultation publique de Montréal.”

“Litigation against racial profiling is on the rise, and so are the costs to taxpayers,” he said, referring to the 5 other racial profiling cases supported by CRARR that are presently before the Human Rights Tribunal. The total damage claim of these cases, including Bélizaire’s, is $150,000.

In addition to $18,000 in damages, the Commission also demands that the SPVM set up, among other things, training and formal evaluation of knowledge gained from training.

The City of Montreal had until last Friday, November 15, to act on the Commission’s recommendation, failing which the case would be brought to the Human Rights Tribunal.