Founded in 1983 - United for Diversity and Racial Equality


Montréal, August 18, 2017 — Police Ethics Commissioner Marc-André Dowd has accepted Errol Burke's request for review of the decision to dismiss his complaint against Montreal police officers.

The Commissioner will launch an investigation into the well-publicized violent arrest of Burke, a light-skinned Black man in his early 50s, who was beaten and arrested last Winter in Côte-des-Neiges because, according to the police, he matched a Black male suspect's description. After realizing their mistakes, none of the police officers showed concern for his health and safety, by offering help or an apology.

“We have supported Mr. Burke all the way, and we are committed to ending the police practice of using vague race-based suspect description that puts Black lives in danger, also known as “Any N- Will Do,” said CRARR Executive Director Fo Niemi.

Each year, CRARR receives a dozen complaints from Black and brown people who are the targets of police interception, arrest and excessive force, often with firearms drawn and handcuffs used, because of mistaken identity caused by the circulation of a vague race-based suspect description. The pattern involves a violent take-down of the innocent person of color, and once officers recognize an error has been made, no apology or assistance is offered.

In 2009, CRARR released a report entitled, “Any Negro Will Do”, describing this practice that often leaves innocent people of color in a state of serious physical and psychological injury, without apology and compensation. The case of Marcellus François, a young Black man who was shot to death in downtown Montreal in 1991 due to racial bias and mistaken identity, is the most serious - and fatal - example of this practice.

The report calls on public authorities such as the provincial human rights commission and the Police Ethics Commissioner to recognize, prevent and correct the practice of circulation vague race-based suspect description, that has the effect of subjecting mostly men of color to danger and violating their civil rights. To date, it appears that none of the recommendations has been adopted.