UPDATE: RACIAL PROFILING CASE AGAINST THE MONTREAL POLICE HEADING TO HUMAN RIGHTS TRIBUNAL
Montreal, November 28, 2013 --- Montreal's record on racial profiling will be once again under the scrutiny of the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal as the Montreal Police recently disregarded the human rights commission's order to compensate two Black brothers for having profiled them back in 2007.
Last October, the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission ordered the City of Montreal to pay $22,000 in damages to the two brothers for having subjected to discriminatory interception and treatment.
The case involves an incident in September 2007, when two men in their twenties drove downtown in their Mercedes sports car to go shopping on a Saturday afternoon. They were initially stopped by two female police officers of the SPVM who claimed that the men were engaging in reckless driving (which they denied) and were revving the engine (which, according to the two men, was impossible given the car model). During the interception, one of the officers asked the passenger to show his ID, which he refused to do because such a request is against the law.
After the first interception, the two men continued driving, but were soon followed by a second police car, driven by two male officers, for more than seven blocks downtown. Finally, when the men parked on Drummond Street above St-Catherine Street, the police car which followed them stopped in the middle of the street, parallel to the Mercedes.
The two brothers approached the police car and asked if there was a problem. They were told that everything was correct and returned to the sidewalk. The police officers, who had driven away, suddenly backed up the street to intercept the two young men and fine them for walking on the street.
Realizing that the fine was an excuse to identify them, the same day the two brothers mandated CRARR to file complaints of racial profiling and police ethics violations against the four officers.
Five years later, in 2012, the Police Ethics Committee ruled that the male officers had brought an unjustified charge against the two brothers, and that they had acted illegally. The tribunal imposed on the officers a suspension of seven days and five days’ suspension without pay. “The officers obtained the men’s identification in this underhand way […] which they subsequently transmitted to the relevant authorities,” wrote the Committee. The Police Ethics Commissioner had ruled out the racial profiling dimension of the complaint against the two male officers, without explanation, before summoning the two officers before the Police Ethics Committee.
The complaint against the two female officers was dropped after conciliation with the Police Ethics Commissioner, and dismissed by the human rights commission last month due to lack of evidence.
The two male officers were found by the Police Ethics Committee to have issued a fine without justification and illegally arrested the two Black brothers, and were suspended without pay for seven and five days respectively. However, the officers appealed the decision and the Court of Quebec struck down the sanction last month.
CRARR is discussing with different organizations in and outside of Montreal on ways to be involved in the case.
“There have been, in the last two years, new important court decisions across Canada, plus there is a new city administration in Montreal, so this case will give stakeholders an opportunity to provide an update on the state of racial profiling and law before the Tribunal,” noted CRARR's Executive Director Fo Niemi.