AFRICAN AMERICAN VISITOR AND PROFESSOR SUING MONTREAL POLICE AFTER ABUSIVE ARREST ON CRESCENT STREET
Montreal, December 10, 2014 --- A local black professor has filed a civil rights complaint against officers of the Montreal police after he and his two African American friends were physically abused and arrested at a local pub on Crescent Street during the Labor Day week-end.
Shortly before midnight, Peter (not his real name) was having a drink in a pub with his two friends visiting from Boston, Fred and Rick. All three men are in their forties, and one of Peter’s friend works for the Massachussetts State Government. The group was chatting with a female patron next to their table when one of his friends, Fred, borrowed Peter’s cell phone and went outside to make a call.
Outside the pub, Fred was quickly accosted by two police officers who grabbed his phone and demanded his ID. The officers searched his phone, and said they would search him. When Fred protested, as he did not know what was happening, he was immediately arrested and handcuffed.
Inside, Peter and his friend saw between four and six police officers going into the club and walking towards them. The two officers who arrested Fred outside and who were among these officers, approached Peter and his friend and demanded ID. They also asked where the Black men were from, without informing them why they were surrounded and questioned.
When Peter took out his wallet, one officer grabbed his wallet from him, searched through his wallet and then stated why he had “all these credits cards” on him. This officer wanted to search Peter because, in his words, they just “arrested his friend outside for drugs.” Within a matter of seconds, Peter was violently dragged outside of the pub, his hands forced behind back. Rick was also hauled outside with force. Both men were not resisting.
Peter was pushed against a wall and handcuffed. He was then searched. The whole incident took place in full view of other customers of the lounger and passers-by.
A police supervisor showed up and asked Peter and his friends whether they are from the U.S. The supervisor told the three men that the laws in Canada were “very different and (the police here) can do whatever we want.” When Peter asked the supervisor for his badge number, the latter laughed at him in front of other officers and bystanders and then made jokes about the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. He never gave Peter his badge number.
Peter and his two friends were then released and warned not to go back into the pub to finish their drinks, otherwise they would be arrested. The three men left, shaken and fearful for their lives. His two friends returned home the day after, completely repulsed by the violent treatment by the Montreal Police.
“We must tell our friends in Boston and other African Americans who consider visiting Montreal that in this city, they can be at risk because of racial profiling by the Montreal Police,” Fred said. “We never realized that Montreal can be as bad for Black men as some places in the U.S.”
Peter experienced high stress and anxiety afterwards, and felt deeply humiliated by the incident since he was concerned that his colleagues and students might have been present and recognized him. To this day, none of the men was told by the police why they were arrested, handcuffed, searched and expelled from the club.
Peter has mandated CRARR to file a civil rights complaint on his behalf, claiming $45,000 in damages against the supervisor, the two officers who arrested him, and their employer, the City of Montreal. Fred is considering filing a civil rights claim against the City and the officers.