A Longueuil man’s racial profiling case will be heading to the Quebec Human’s Rights Tribunal after the city of Longueuil failed to comply with a decision handed down by the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission.
After a longstanding battle with Longueuil police, the commission ruled in favour of Joel Debellefeuille, and recommended the city pay him $12,000 in damages for violating his civil rights.
The ruling also stipulated that the city should offer training on racial profiling and update its 2015-2017 Action Plan Against Racism and Discrimination.
The ruling came down in mid-April and the city of Longueuil had until last Friday to comply.
The incident at the centre of the initial complaint dates back to 2012, when Debellefeuille was driving his son to daycare in his BMW.
He says police tailed him for 11 blocks before he was pulled over and asked for his identification.
The officers told him it was a random traffic stop, but the Longueuil resident argued that those kinds of stops happen to him all the time.
In a written statement, Debellefeuille said he wasn’t surprised by the city’s failure to comply.
“I had expected this kind of response,” he said. “There is still a lot of denial and pretension, both at the individual and institutional level, that racism does not exist.”
Debellefeuille remains hopeful the proceedings will be eye-opening and lead to change.
“It will provide residents of Longueuil and others a unique opportunity to see what the city in general and the Longeuil police in particular have actually done in recent years on racism and discrimination,” he said.
That sentiment was echoed by Fo Niemi, executive director of the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR)
“We hope that senior City officials will testify at the Human Rights Tribunal on the actions set out in the 2015-2017 Action Plan, which, by the way, has expired without any concrete results being made public,” he said.
CRARR said it has four other cases before the commission involving four English-speaking black individuals and complaints of racial profiling and bias against the city and Longueuil police.
–– With files from Global’s Felicia Parrillo