RACIAL PROFILING CASE HEADING TO HUMAN RIGHTS TRIBUNAL, “OPPORTUNITY TO EXAMINE POLICE-BLACK RELATIONS IN MONTREAL”
Montreal, August 27, 2014 --- The racial profiling case involving Black Montrealer Farid Charles will be heading to the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal, since the City of Montreal has refused to heed the Quebec Human Rights Commission’s call to compensate Mr. Charles for violating his civil rights.
Last June, the Commission recommended in a decision that the City pay Mr. Charles $33,000 in damages for racial profiling and having subjecting him to illegal detention and arrest, and an abusive fine. The Commission also asks the Montreal Police Department to hold training to prevent racial profiling and to report to the Commission on the outcomes.
Last week, the City refused to comply with the Commission’s decision, and Mr. Charles’ offer of settlement with a lesser amount.
In April 2010, Mr. Charles was intercepted, violently arrested, assaulted and fined $144 for “wandering without being able to justify his presence.” He was waiting as a passenger in a friend’s car in front of a Caribbean restaurant in a Lasalle shopping center while his friend went in to buy food. Officer Christopher Brault suddenly opened the driver’s side door and asked for Mr. Charles’ driver’s license and car papers. Officer Brault then insisted that Mr. Charles show his ID, without telling him why; he only told Mr. Charles to sit still and be quiet, due to break-ins in the area.
When Mr. Charles asked the officer why he wanted to see ID, yet again, the latter moved quickly to the passenger side, and grabbed Mr. Charles’ arm. When Mr. Charles told the officer to let go, as the officer had no right to do what he did, the latter grabbed Mr. Charles, pulled him out of the car, punched him in the face and dragged him to the ground. Mr. Charles was then handcuffed and searched by Officer Brault and his colleague Officer Mathieu Boucher-Bacon.
In a decision issued in May 2013, the Police Ethics Committee ruled that each of the two officers should be suspended for 5 days without pay for illegally intercepting, arresting and using unjustified force, and for 5 more days without pay for issuing a ticket to Mr. Charles (the Committee actually imposed a suspension without pay for each of the 4 charges, but decided that the first 3 should be served concurrently (thus the 5 days for all 3), while the fourth, for the fine, separately). The two officers have appealed the decision to the Court of Quebec, which has yet to issue its decision.
Although the Police Ethics Committee rejected the racial profiling claim (which it does regularly in most police ethics cases), the Human Rights Commission concluded that Mr. Charles was a victim of race discrimination and recommends that the City pay Mr. Charles $25,000 in moral damages, and that Officer Brault and Officer Boucher-Bacon respectively pay him $5,000 and $3,000 in punitive damages.
“I welcome the opportunity to go to the Human Rights Tribunal, and I encourage members of the Black community and other people to attend the hearing, because it is a rare opportunity to examine the Montreal Police Department’s record on racial profiling,” said Mr. Charles.
Recently, in an open letter published on Facebook, he calls on Montreal’s Mayor Denis Coderre to be accountable and report on what the police has done on racial profiling, how much money has been spent on training and defending itself against racial profiling claims, and what the outcomes of its training are (https://www.facebook.com/groups/reason4change/).
“Mr. Charles’ case will be the first case before the Tribunal that involves an English-speaking Black man since our local anti-racial profiling movement took off in 2002”, noted CRARR’s Executive Director Fo Niemi. “In the shadow of Ferguson, this litigation will also allow the public to examine the state of police-Black relations in Montreal.”
In the last 12 years, only one case of racial profiling involving the police has been heard by the Tribunal (the Rezko case), which ruled in 2012 that an Arab man was a victim of police racial bias and awarded him $18,000 in damages.
Another CRARR-assisted racial profiling case, involving two Black brothers who were intercepted downtown and fined for jaywalking, is also heading to the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal. The Commission is claiming a total of $22,000 in damages, which the City has refused to pay.