Founded in 1983 - United for Diversity and Racial Equality


Montreal, October 26, 2009 --- A 23 year-old Black McGill female student is asking racialized youth to speak out about abusive arrests in the subway, after she became another victim of municipal authorities’ ongoing criminalization of Black youths.

Last March, Ms. Jackie Jones, who studies psychology at McGill University, entered the Peel station next to the university to go home after a night studying. She was talking to a male Hispanic friend inside the station, near the escalator, when she was approached by two white male Montreal Transit Commission (MTC) security guards who said something to her in French. Not sure what one of them said, she calmly asked him to repeat in English, which the latter did rudely, telling her to move on. She then told the guards that there was a polite way to talk to metro riders.

The two guards immediately surrounded Ms. Jones and asked for her ID in an aggressive tone. She ended up violently assaulted and arrested by up to five security guards, searched and handcuffed, without knowing the reason for her arrest or being informed of her civil rights during the arrest. When the guards found her McGill ID in her purse, Ms. Jones noted an immediate attitude change. The police and the ambulance eventually arrived, and after a quick medical check up, she was released.

Humiliated and traumatized by the violent, abusive arrest and assault, Ms. Jones sought CRARR’s help to file a complaint with the Quebec human rights commission for violating her right to equality and her legal rights. In its complaint, filed in July, CRARR seeks $45,000 in moral and punitive damages against the two guards and the MTC.

In addition, CRARR asks the human rights commission to investigate, “in the public interest and for the sake of the physical safety and integrity of metro riders who are youths of color in Montreal”, the MTC’s training of its guards (especially on racial profiling and use of excessive force) and practices of arrest and using race-based codes in radio communications, as well as the respondent guards’ record on dealing with youths of color.

Ms. Jones’ ordeal did not end there. Several months after the incident, she received a fine of $100 for interfering with riders’ circulation and two criminal charges for obstructing the work of civil servants in relation to the incident. The court papers and the ticket were lodged five months after the incident. Since Ms. Jones may not be entitled to legal aid, her criminal defense may cost her at least $5,000.

“Ms. Jones’ case is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the way the MTC frequently criminalizes and financially burdens Black youths in the City,” said CRARR’s Civil Rights Advocate Adrienne Gibson, herself a McGill law graduate.

“All Black McGill students should take extra precaution when using the Peel subway station due to regular racial profiling there. We are also calling on these students and their friends to come forward if they have experienced the same treatment at that station,” said Ms. Gibson.

In 2006, in the human rights commission’s first metro racial profiling decision, CRARR helped win $15,000 for a 15-year old Black boy who was physically assaulted and arrested for simply refusing to get on a crowded subway car at the order of a metro security guard. It has also represented many other Black youths who have been detained, arrested, fined and even physically assaulted, without valid motives, by metro security guards. This summer, CRARR also filed another civil rights complaint on behalf of a Black couple in their 50s who was detained and falsely accused of riding the subway without paying and obstructing the inspectors’ work. The couple were hit with $1,100 in fines.

The MTC still does not train its metro security guards on racial profiling, despite the human rights commission’s past order and a 2007 court decision that found its guards to have committed racial profiling.