Founded in 1983 - United for Diversity and Racial Equality


Montreal, July 14, 2011 --- A young black man who was stopped, questioned and searched in an abusive and arbitrary way by Montreal police officers four years ago has finally been successful with his racial profiling complaint with the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission.

On 7th August, 2007, Mr. RL, a then 28-year-old telecommunication professional of Haitian origin, stopped his convertible Mercedes sports car at a service station near the Ile des Soeurs at around 12.30am to buy some juice. Shortly after entering the service station, he returned to his car to get some money. Mr. RL was then stopped and questioned by officers from the Montreal City Police Service (SPVM); one female officer asked for his papers. Mr. RL tried to ask why he had been stopped but the officer warned him he would receive a ticket if he refused to comply. Eventually surrounded by four other police officers who made mocking remarks and gestures about him, he provided his papers to the officer, who went to the police car to check them. She returned to inform him that the next time she would give him a ticket because he had left the keys in the car when he went into the service station.

Feeling that the harassment was due to his being a black man driving a Mercedes, and knowing he had not left his keys in the car, Mr. RL instructed the CRARR to lodge a complaint for racial profiling on his behalf with the Commission and the Police Ethics Commissioner. While the Commissioner quickly closed the case after conciliation failed, the Commission continued its investigation.

In May 2011, that investigation concluded that “the interception and intervention carried out on 7th August, 2007,... were motivated by the race and color” of RL. The Commission asked the SPVM and the female police officer to jointly pay Mr. RL $5,000 in moral damages and $2,000 in punitive damages. Furthermore, the Commission ordered the SPVM to follow up on several recommendations made in its recent report on racial profiling.

Mr. RL said: “Although I am happy with the decision, I think the fact that it has taken four years it has taken to arrive at this conclusion does not encourage victims of racial profiling to lodge complaints. Others will also ask themselves if $7,000 compensation after four years is a sufficient sanction against police racism towards young Black men like me.”

CRARR Executive Director Fo Niemi added: “At least this decision gives us hope. Seeing the way the Police Ethics Commissioner dealt with the same case, it's difficult not to ask questions about how he investigates cases of racial profiling.”

The SPVM has until 15th of July to comply with the Commission's decision, otherwise the case will be brought before the Human Rights Tribunal.