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Montreal, May 28, 2010 --- The City of Montreal has withdrawn two citations worth $1,020 against Amal Asmar, a female Concordia University student of Arab background who was violently arrested by two police officers in downtown Montreal.

On February 4, 2010, Ms. Amal Asmar, who is studying human relations and psychology at Concordia University, left the university's downtown Webster library, which is open 24hrs, during the early morning hours to walk to a friend's house to stay overnight. When she sat down on a bench in front of the Alex Nihon Plaza to take a rest and to look for her agenda and her gloves in her school bag, two police officers drove up to ask for her ID. Both officers then told her that she was breaking the law because she was placing her bag on the bench. When she asked them with concern and surprise what law she had broken, the officers proceeded to arrest and handcuff her violently. She was searched and then released from the police car. Her belongings were thrown to the ground. Both officers drove off without telling her their names and badge numbers as she requested.

Amal discovered two tickets tucked into her agenda: one worth $620 for misuse of municipal property, the other, $420 for having made a loud noise other than yelling.

During her detention in the police car, she overheard both officers talking with their supervisor about a crank 9-1-1 call made by a woman with a “foreign accent.” She believed that the officers mistook her for that woman.

Physically and psychologically traumatized by the incident, she had to seek medical care and had be absent from her classes in the following days. It took her almost an entire one month to overcome the psychological scars. She sought help from the Concordia Student Union Legal Information Clinic, which then referred the case to CRARR. Ms. Asmar decided to go public with her plight to denounce the police officers’ biased conduct and excessive use of force.

The case made national and international headlines and was the subject of editorials in the Montreal Gazette and the weekly Suburban, Montreal’s second largest English-language newspaper.

“I feel so relieved and vindicated,” said Ms. Asmar. “This shows that ordinary citizens, particularly women of color, should not hesitate to speak out against police abuse of power and excessive use of force.”

Through CRARR, she has also filed complaints with the Police Ethics Commissioner and the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission. The Police Ethics Commissioner has chosen to send her complaint to investigation, by passing the usual conciliation process, due to the “public interest“ dimension of the case.