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Montréal, August 9, 2020 - The Terrebonne Police will face new complaints of racial profiling after a Black driver was pulled over without valid grounds and received two fines.

On July 31st, at approximately 6:30 PM, Jonathan Woodley, an English-speaking Black business owner and resident of a neighboring town, Mascouche, was on his way home after picking up baby formula for his 2-week-old newborn and dinner for his wife and two-year old when he was pulled over by two Terrebonne police officers.

The two officers walked up on each side of his car. Woodley rolled his window down and asked them why he had been pulled over. The officers were evasive, and he had to ask over four times before receiving a response. On one occasion, feeling extremely frustrated by the situation and wanting an answer, Woodley used an expletive.

The officer standing on the driver side told him that his taillights were too darkly tinted (which Woodley had never heard before) and that he was driving a car registered to a woman. The woman in question is Woodley’s wife, Stephanie Mucci, who is of Italian descent.

“The police in Terrebonne and elsewhere often use the fact that my car is registered to my wife’s name as a pretext to pull me over,” said Woodley. “I should be able to drive my wife’s car in peace, just as she drives mine, like any other married couple,” he added.

Woodley was ultimately issued two tickets, one for “swearing at a police officer”, for $274.00 and the other, issued to his wife, for “lights that were not clear of obstruction”, for $171.00.

When Woodley arrived home that evening, at 7:30 PM, he was still frustrated by the encounter. His wife Stephanie noticed that he was visibly upset and came outside to give him a hug. Shortly after, a Mascouche police car pulled up to his house, stating that they had received a call from a neighbor that he and his wife had been arguing.

Both Woodley and his wife told the police officers repeatedly that they hadn’t been arguing, but the officers would not leave their property, and tried to enter their home without consent and without wearing face masks, risking the health and safety of Woodley’s two children.

Two more police cars arrived outside Woodley’s home, and by the end of the ordeal, the couple had faced a total of five officers.

“Not only did they try to enter my home repeatedly despite our objections, but one officer continued to ask me if I lived there, as if a Black man couldn’t possibly own a nice home or live in Mascouche,” Woodley said.

This is just another “Karen” case, of someone calling the police on a Black man when he was talking to his wife in front of his own home,” he added.

CRARR will help Woodley file complaints to the Police Ethics Commissioner and the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission, against both police services. Woodley’s complaint against the Terrebonne police will be the 14th in two years.

Pierre Marcel Monsanto, a Black man living in Terrebonne, has already filed a whopping 12 civil rights complaints and 11 police ethics complaints against the Terrebonne police department for racial profiling. These complaints only dealt with 12 of the multiple stops Monsanto had experienced between summer 2018 and summer 2019 alone.

Exceptionally, the Police Ethics Commissioner bypassed conciliation, an integral part of the complaint handling process, and sent all 11 cases to investigation, which is still active.

“As in Mr. Woodley’s cases, the police officers often drove in the opposite direction, saw me and quickly made a U-turn to intercept me. They usually asked whether this was my car, since it is registered to my wife’s name, as if a Black man driving a car registered to a woman’s name that is different from his is automatically suspect,” Monsanto said.

“It’s become very stressful and humiliating. I have no freedom to drive and go anywhere without being checked, no right to drive my wife’s car, and no right to live in Terrebonne in peace and dignity like other residents,” he added.

“We see a pattern of police practices that clearly point to one thing: that Black drivers are inherently suspicious, and that they don’t belong. More Black drivers in Terrebonne should take action to stop this systemic practice,” said CRARR Executive Director Fo Niemi.

According to the 2016 Census, there were 8,000 Black residents in Terrebonne (population: 111,500), and 1,300 Black residents in Mascouche (population: 46,700)

“Is Terrebonne becoming the next Repentigny where racial profiling is systemic and endemic?” asked CRARR Advisor Alain Babineau. “Racial profiling and systemic racism are like COVID-19. They can infect police services, and cost the city and police officers a great deal of time and money before the courts.”

“We need a cure quickly, and that cure begins with the Terrebonne Police Chief Marc Brisson recognizing the problem and acting on it ASAP. It’s the same message for the Mascouche Police Service,” Babineau said.

“And since this is right in the backyard of Premier François Legault, we need to drive home this message to the Premier and call on him to act against racial profiling,” Niemi said.