Wayne Anthony King, 49, says he was walking along a busy street in Plateau-Mont-Royal with his wife, baby and a friend after they had dropped off their kids at school and daycare on July 4.
Two Montreal police officers approached them and said there had been complaints about him, according to King.
King says he was adamant there must have been a mistake and that it wasn’t him. When he pressed for more details, King says officers told him he matched the description of someone they were looking for in the area.
“They changed their story and said I fit the description of someone they were looking for so therefore they needed to see my ID,” he said.
King says he went to the police station to complain about the incident and was showed a photo of the person wanted by police. He says that person — other than being black — did not resemble him at all.
The incident left King feeling upset since he says he has been racially profiled by police on three separate occasions in the last year. Now, he says he plans to combat it.
“I’m here to fight against this police harassment that keeps happening to people that look like me,” he said.
The Center for Research-Action on Race Relations is filing a complaint to the Human Rights Commission and to the police ethics commissioner on King’s behalf.
Alain Babineau, a former RCMP officer who works at the centre, described King’s case as one of a police street check known as carding.
“It’s illegal. You can’t be doing that. People have no obligations to provide identification if they haven’t committed any offense,” Babineau told Global News.
Montreal police declined to comment on the allegations since the case is ongoing.
Earlier this month, a Quebec Superior Court judge authorized a class action lawsuit against Montreal on behalf of citizens who allege they were unfairly arrested, detained, and racially profiled by the city’s police between Aug. 2017 and Jan. 2019.
The Black Coalition of Quebec estimates that it will have about 150 people joining the lawsuit — but that number could rise.
While he is frustrated, King says he hopes he can help change how racialized groups are treated.
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— With files from Global News’ Elysia Bryan-Baynes and the Canadian Press