Founded in 1983 - United for Diversity and Racial Equality


Montreal, October 23, 2009 --- The case of Black community leader Gemma Raeburn and her two friends who were subject to racially discriminatory conduct by two Montreal police officers back in 2004 will go to trial in Winter 2010.

Attempts at mediation that took place this morning at the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal failed.

In 2004, Ms. Raeburn, a resident of Dollard-des-Ormeaux, was cleaning out her garage with her two Black male friends when they were confronted by police officers responding to a neighbor's report that thieves wearing something black on their faces were robbing Ms. Raeburn's home. When Ms. Raeburn told one officer pointing a gun at her that he would not have pulled his gun if she had been White, one officer replied that “bullets don't see color.” Meanwhile, when Mr. Frederick Peters, one of the friends helping Ms. Raeburn move, was told by another officer to go back to his country if he did not “like it here”, when he objected to the officer's rude tone.

Last year, the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission recommended $20,000 in moral and punitive damages for each of the three Black citizens.

Since there are fundamental civil rights issues at stake in the case, the three have decided to go to trial before the Tribunal in Winter 2010.

“These issues matter not only to us, but to all members of the Black and other racialized as well as non-racialized communities,” said Ms. Raeburn.

“We have brought these issues to the UN Independent Expert on Minority Issues, Ms. Gay McDougall, during her visit to Montreal this week. We look forward to seeing Ms. McDougall address in her report on Canada the ways in which the City of Montreal deals with minorities' complaints of racism in its police and other city services.”

“We are naturally disappointed that Mayor Gerald Tremblay continues to refuse to acknowledge racial bias and discrimination in the City's services and to take remedial actions to correct the problem,” said Ms. Raeburn.

(L to R) Frederick Peters, Gemma Raeburn, Peter Charles and Fo Niemi