Founded in 1983 - United for Diversity and Racial Equality


Montréal, October 30, 2012 --- The family of a Black youth who was violently arrested and charged with a criminal offense even after the police realized they had the wrong man, called the incident a case of “police lynching” and called on the Mayor and the Police Chief of Montreal to apologize.

On the afternoon of October 3, 2012, Mr. Mark Wiles Simpson, a 19 year-old student, bumped into his cousin while going to work at a McDonald's in Ville St-Laurent, a West-end district of Montreal. Both youths were sitting in a park and talking when a police car arrived. A white female officer with black gloves walked towards the two youths and told the younger youth to leave. As Mr. Wiles Simpson followed, the officer jumped on him and within seconds, three more officers attacked and wrestled him to the ground. They punched and choked him, and twisted one of his legs as he lay face down.

He was then handcuffed, pushed into a police vehicle in front of his cousin and other youths, and hauled away. The arrest was captured on video:

It was only when he was forced into the police car that he was told of the reason for his arrest: that he “stole something.” Later, while still handcuffed in the car, he was told that he fit the description of a Black male who stole something at a nearby liquor store. He was eventually informed that he was not the suspect sought by the police, and although he would be released, he would be charged with obstruction of justice. At no time was he informed of his constitutional rights or offered an apology for being mistaken for another suspect.

“Now I know what it was like for Black men to be lynched by a white mob and the police during the Segregation years in the U.S. Those officers could have put the noose around my neck, hanged me and even if they realized they got the wrong man, they didn't have the decency to say at least “We're sorry”, ” said Mr. Wiles Simpson.

“I now have to face a criminal charge, and my reputation as well as my honor are in tatters. I have completely lost my pride and dignity and my family has lost our pride and dignity. Like my friends, especially my Black friends, I have lost faith in the police,” he added.

“They didn't even bother to apologize to my son and to our family. This is not the kind of civility and professionalism we expect from our police officers,” said Ms. Dionne Wiles, Mark's mother, who was surrounded by other family members at the press conference.

“We have a serious problem, Chief, and the problem is not our Black youth and not my son. It's your officers, and how they treat Black men,” she said. Ms. Dionne Wiles is calling on Mayor Gerald Tremblay and Chief Marc Parent to apologize to the family.

CRARR has received a mandate to file both civil rights and police ethics complaints for Mr. Wiles Simpson.

“This is yet another case of “Any Negro Will Do”, where the police acts on a vague race-based suspect description, jumps on someone and arrests him as if all Black men look alike. And the officers even charged the youth with obstruction!”, added CRARR's Executive Director, Fo Niemi. “We are very concerned that for several years we have called on authorities to address this problem but no one has officially recognized that this is as dangerous and destructive as racial profiling”.

Mr. Wiles Simpson's court date is in December 2012.

CRARR is asking anyone who witnessed and recorded the arrest to contact the office and forward the recording.