VICTIM OF ANTI-BLACK HATE CRIME LEFT IN THE DARK BY THE MONTREAL POLICE AND CROWN
Montreal, November 25, 2013 --- Months after being physically assaulted and called the N-word by a group of white youths, a Black man is still left in the dark about his case by the criminal justice system.
As reported in June 2013, Adam (not his real name), a Black man in his late fifties who works as a newspaper delivery man, was violently assaulted by a group of white anglophones near the Charlevoix metro station in the South-West district of Montreal and repeatedly called the N-word while being punched and kicked. During the assault, the police arrived and arrested the two male aggressors.
Adam sustained facial trauma and had to be tended to by ambulance workers. He later experienced headaches, fatigue, anxiousness, and flashbacks to the assault. He regularly experienced fear and stress related to the possibility of running into his aggressors during his work in the district.
Since then, Adam has been unable to find out about his case. Attempts to contact the local detective who initially handled his file led to frequent bureaucratic run-arounds. As of last week, he had no information as to where his case was.
Last October, CRARR wrote to Montreal Police Chief Marc Parent to inquire about Adam’s case. Despite a fairly rapid acknowledgement of the letter, little information has since been communicated to both Adam and CRARR, which also represents him in a civil rights complaint against his aggressors.
“To the authorities, I’m just a nameless and faceless file number” said Adam.
It was through CRARR that Adam learned of his rights as a victim of a hate crime.
This is the second case of violent assault handled by CRARR in recent months, in which a prohibited ground of non-discrimination is a factor and which also involves the victim, a Hispanic woman, being left completely uninformed for months about her case.
“There is a disconnect between the police and the Crown prosecutor’s office leading the victim to wonder whether his case is treated as a hate crime case. If there is under-prosecution or disregard of the element of anti-Black racism, then there is denial of the victim’s constitutionally protected right to the equal protection and benefit of the law,” noted CRARR’s Executive Director Fo Niemi.
The Criminal Code imposes stiffer sentences for crimes motivated by factors such as race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, and disability. The application of this principle depends, however, on whether the police and the prosecution properly presents the case as a hate-motivated crime. The victim can also introduce a “victim’s impact statement”; however, this depends on whether he knows when the criminal trial is and when or whether he is asked by the prosecutor.
“In light of rising tensions and hostility directed towards persons of Muslims and other racialized and religious minority backgrounds, how the Montreal police and the local Crown’s office answer to hate crime victims’ needs is a matter of public interest,” added Mr. Niemi.
CRARR will submit suggestions to the Montreal Police Service to better help victims of hate crime.