CASES OF RACE DISCRIMINATION AND PROFILING IN POLICING ON THE DOCKET IN FALL 2015
Montreal, August 17, 2015 — Numerous CRARR-assisted cases of racial profiling and racial discrimination in policing will head to court and to mediation before the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission this Fall.
The Commission is claiming $7,000 in a Walking While Black case against the City of Gatineau and two of its police officers, for following, intercepting and fining Mr. M.A., a Black professional in his forties, as he was walking home from Ottawa on the bridge linking the two cities. Mr. M.A.’s case could very well be the first racial profiling in the Quebec side of the National Capital Region.
The case will be heard on November 24 and 25 at Gatineau Court House located at 17 Laurier, Gatineau, Room 11.
In the case involving Jean-Paul Ounabikidi, his wife and children, $69,000 in moral and punitive damages are being sought by the Commission against two Montreal police officers and the City of Montreal for racial profiling and other civil rights violations in a Driving While Black case that occurred in 2007. Mr. Ounabikidi was driving his teenager to a sport game in the South Shore when he was stopped near his business in front of Frontenac Metro station. His violent assault which took place in front of his store was witnessed by his wife and children. He was pepper sprayed, arrested and charged with several counts of assaulting police officers, obstruction of justice and resisting arrest. The Police Ethics Committee has ruled against the police officers, who claimed that Mr. Ounabikidi hurt himself by hitting his head while he was detained in the police car. The police officers also claimed that as he was hitting his head, Mr. Ounabikidi called for “Allah” several times, (Mr. Ounabakidi is a devout Catholic).
The case will be heard before the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal for 8 days, from October 18 to October 30, 2015, at the Montreal Court House, Room 13.04.
Driving While Black: The Montreal Police Service has agreed to participate in mediation in the case involving well-known singer Freddie James and his companion. Mr. James was driving home in his BMW from a soccer game in Pierrefonds when he was trailed and stopped by a white police officer who demanded to see his papers. When he asked the police officer the reason why he had been followed at such high speed and was then intercepted, he received no response. Mr. James then asked to speak to a supervisor and called 9-1-1. Two more white officers arrived at the scene as back-up and suddenly dragged him out of his car, as he was talking to a 9-1-1 operator. The police officers roughed him up before handcuffing him. He was eventually released without a single explanation or apology concerning the excessive force and the arrest. He was also fined for not producing the requested papers.
Removal of Hijab during Police Search: In another groundbreaking case –which could set a precedent for all police departments regarding religious considerations in stop-and-search policies— the Montreal Police Service has agreed to mediation in a case involving the arrest of a Muslim mother and her son as they were coming home from a Mosque. A false report of terrorist threat led to the interception and arrest of mother and son near their home by numerous masked police officers armed with automatic weapons. During the arrest, an officer removed the mother’s hijab in plain public view to perform a search. The mother’s dress was also lifted during the search, in full view of her son who was detained in a nearby police car. Both mother and son were later released. The woman, who was visiting her son from their native Morocco, experienced deep shock, trauma and humiliation to the point where she had to take (or be prescribed?) medication and consult a psychologist even after returning to Morocco. In addition to damages, CRARR is seeking clear policy guidelines on police search of persons with religious attires and headgears, similar to those adopted in other American and British jurisdictions.
Unequal Protection of the Law: In Mr. Yu Chao Du’s complaint against the Quebec Provincial Police (SQ) and its officer for racial bias in policing, the case will also go to mediation. Last August, Mr. Du’s car was hit by a car in a hit-and-run incident in Sainte-Julienne, Quebec. A SQ officer arrived, quickly assessed the damage and then drove away. He did not hear from the SQ again until his application for insurance coverage of damages was rejected. The police report, which he obtained from the Automobile Insurance Board, had reversed the unfolding of events by claiming that Mr. Du had been the one to hit the other car and stating that it was not a hit and run. A complaint was also filed against the officer at the Police Ethics Commissioner, who has yet to render a decision, months since the unsuccessful conciliation held in February 2015.
Eclipse Arrest on Crescent Street: Mediation continues in the case of three African Americans in their forties being violently arrested on Labor Day 2014 at Thursday’s, a Crescent Street bar, by the Montreal Police Service’s anti-gang Eclipse squad. Two of the men were tourists from Boston visiting Montreal, and the third, was a local college professor. All three were arrested, handcuffed and abusively searched by Eclipse officers while going to Thursday’s for a drink. One man has filed a police ethics complaint against the arresting officers, and a civil rights complaint. All three are also preparing to sue the bar. The case will allow for a closer examination of the Eclipse intervention tactics, which are known to regularly profile Black males in downtown bars and clubs.