RACIAL PROFILING: BLACK MAN TO FILE COMPLAINTS OVER SEARCH AND ARREST FOR FILMING A POLICE STOP, HIS CAM RECORDER SEIZED AND ERASED
Montréal, March 12, 2017 — An English-speaking Black man in his forties, who was intercepted, arrested and handcuffed for no clear reasons by two Montreal police officers, who then seized his cam recorder and erased his recording of the intervention, has asked CRARR to help him file complaints with the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission, and the Police Ethics Commissioner.
The incident took place on Westminster St. in Montreal-West on March 3, at around 10:30 pm. Mr. Kenrick McRae was waiting in his Mercedes while his female companion was doing a financial transaction at a RBC ATM. He saw a police car moving in the opposite direction, and it stopped directly parallel with his car. The police car then made a U-turn and positioned itself behind his car. After his companion returned to the car, Mr. McRae proceeded to drive away and within minutes, he was pulled over by the police. He mounted a portable cam recorder and started recording.
A police officer came up to him and asked for his papers. When Mr. McRae asked for the reason for the stop, the officer said that he had stopped Mr. McRae before and that he was double-checking this time if his car belonged to him. After checking his papers, the officer told Mr. McRae that he was stopped because his plate lights were not working. Mr. McRae came out of his car with his cam recorder, saw his lights were working and recorded the plate as evidence.
When Mr. McRae told the officer that he would make a complaint to the department, one officer asked him to hand over his cam recorder. When he asked why he should do so, both officers proceeded to detain and handcuff him. They told him that he was arrested for “disturbance.”
His cam recorder was taken from him. Up to eight police officers, including several supervisors, were now at the scene. In the back seat of the police car, and still handcuffed, Mr. McRae saw the two arresting officers view his cam recorder and then proceed to erase the video recordings. He tried to talk to one supervisor about the situation, but the latter refused to listen to him.
The two arresting officers told him that they did not find anything to charge him with, so Mr. McRae was taken out of the police car and uncuffed. The officers gave him back his cam recorder and told him to leave. He and his female companion immediately checked the recorder and discovered that his recording of the incident and other materials had been erased.
When he got home, he called 911 to make a report. A police supervisor called, but Mr. McRae recognized that it was the same supervisor who was at the scene and who refused to listen to him. He hung up, and called 911 again to ask for another senior officer. This time, a man called him back and took his report.
“I've been stopped so often as a Black man driving a Mercedes, and getting a cam recorder is one way for me to protect myself from the police,” said Mr. McRae. “But never in my life did I imagine the police would arrest me for filming what I consider to be evidence of racial profiling, seize my cam recorder and erase my recordings. This is not the kind of policing we expect in 2017.”
“This case is not only about Driving While Black, but it is also about the police power to seize and search a cam recorder, and most importantly, about the accountability of the supervisor at the scene,” said CRARR's Executive Director Fo Niemi. “It's one of the most egregious cases of racial profiling we've seen.”