Founded in 1983 - United for Diversity and Racial Equality


Montreal, July 21, 2011 --- Despite the recently released report of the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission on racial profiling (see, which addresses the need for strong legal and educational measures to combat this practice, the situation does not seem to be improving.

Black persons, in particular, appear to be the racialized group most targeted by racially biased law enforcement and related practices in public and private spaces.

In the last four weeks, CRARR has received numerous calls for help from Black persons of all ages who are experiencing racial profiling on city streets, in commercial stores and even in their own driveways. These cases will be submitted to the human rights commission in the coming weeks:

  • In a case of Any Negro Will Do (a term to refer to the police practice of arresting a Black person based on a vague racialized suspect description), a young Black man was arrested in broad daylight in downtown Montreal by the police, while going shopping with a friend, and charged with theft. He was identified by police officers as the young Black man who had robbed someone downtown four months earlier; he protested, claiming total innocence and a case of mistaken identity. Not only was he charged, brought to the police station where he was detained for almost five hours, required to provide fingerprints and have a mugshot taken, but he was also banned from a wide area of downtown until his court date, which would be four weeks from the arrest. This sweeping police practice effectively aims to make downtown a “Black-free zone” (CRARR has documented numerous cases involving this practice). When his hearing took place, the charge was withdrawn by the Crown for a simple reason: the police got the wrong youth.
  • In a case of Driving While Black, a young Black male Concordia University graduate was driving with his White male friend to a movie in the West Island when he was stopped by the Montreal police for driving through a red light. In his and his friends' words, he was driving through the intersection when the light turned yellow, but could not stop in time. Flagged over by two police officers, he and his friend were then subjected to lengthy an aggressive questioning about the smell of weed in the car, despite the fact that neither driver nor passenger had smoked and the driver forbid smoking in his car. Nonetheless, the two officers required them to step out of the car and then subjected them to a body search followed by a search of the car. When no weed was found, the officers gave the Black driver a ticket for driving through a red light.
  • In a case of Shopping While Black, a 40-something English-speaking Black male went to buy household equipment at a major department store in the LaSalle district of Montreal, where he often shopped. After paying at the cash, he headed out of the store, past the electronic reader. Although the reader did not ring, a White female clerk suddenly came up to him and asked him sharply whether he had paid for the merchandise. He told her yes, pointed out that the reader did not ring, and then headed outside to the parking lot. As he entered his car, he noticed the female clerk and four other male clerks outside, obviously looking for him. Concerned by the number of clerks looking for him, he drove towards them and asked if everything was okay. He was then questioned by the manager, who asked whether he had paid for the merchandise. Fearing that they would call the police, he gave explanations and produced the receipt. Still unsatisfied, the manager insisted on reviewing the surveillance tape. The manager returned several minutes later to apologize for the incident.
  • In a Clubbing While Black case that involves both racial profiling and violation of privacy rights, young Black patrons of a night club in the North end of Montreal have complained of being required to produce their IDs to doormen at the club entrance; their IDs are then scanned at the door, which may mean that personal data are kept without their knowledge and consent. Meanwhile, non-Black patrons are not subjected to the same practice. Plans are being made confirm the club's policy by gathering as many witnesses to this practice as possible.
  • Three other incidents involving the police and Black persons are also being examined. A number of Black victims of racial profiling are currently gathering appropriate medical records, witness statements and other material evidence.

    Racial profiling claims involving other racialized minorities are also being prepared:

  • In a Driving While Brown case, a young biracial man (White-Latino) was driving home in his wife's car from a corner store in Laval, a municipality north of Montreal, accompanied by his male cousin, who is Latino. They had gone to buy eggs and bread for breakfast for the man's wife and two young children. Near the man's home, he and his cousin were tailed by the police. The man parked his car in front of his home and started walking to his front door, when he was rudely called over by two police officers still in their car. He asked the police officers why they wanted to see him and not given a motive, he calmly turned around and continued walking to his home. He was about to set down his groceries so that he could unlock his door when he was violently grabbed from behind by the two officers, dragged to the police vehicle, slammed on the hood of the vehicle, handcuffed, and then punched numerous times by one of the officers. His wife, who is White, ran downstairs to see what was going on. Horrified at the sight of one of the police officers punching her husband in the face, she asked the other officer about the grounds for her husband's arrest and assault, but was given no explanation except for an alleged faulty brake light on her car. When her husband cried out in pain and in fear, the officers threatened to taser him. The two officers then drove away with the young man, releasing him a couple of blocks away.

    The officers then returned to the man's home and engaged with the wife, using rude language and still refusing to say why they arrested and assaulted her husband. They then gave her a ticket for faulty break lights and two tickets for her husband, with fines for using foul language against the police (while he was being assaulted without cause) and for driving without a license. The man's wife later checked her brake lights, which were, in fact, fully functional.

    The man walked home in physical pain and psychologically shaken, and had to go to a medical clinic for treatment. The couple lives in a social housing complex, near an area known for criminal activity. The couple's two young children, aged 2 and 5, witnessed the incident and are now terrified of police officers. To this day, the couple does not know why he was arrested and violently beaten in front of his home.

  • All the above cases involve English-speaking persons, which raises the issue as to whether French-speaking Black persons are equally exposed to racial profiling but that they are less ready to file civil rights complaints.