A Montreal man says his battle with police is far from over, even though the Montreal police ethics committee agrees that he was racially profiled two years ago.
In March 2017 after leaving a bank, Kenrick McRae says police stopped him to verify his ownership of the white Mercedes SUV he was driving. Then he says they claimed his licence plate wasn’t properly lit.
After he proved that it was, and recorded the intervention, they confiscated his camera and deleted the recording. Then he was handcuffed and made to sit in the police car.
Luckily he wasn’t alone in his car. His friend, who was watching from the passenger’s seat, reacted.
“Same time now my friend jumped out of the car and started recording,” McRae told Global News.
He complained to the ethics commission who revealed their findings Dec. 18, 2019, saying the two constables, Christian Benoit and Philippe Bernard-Thomassin, violated the police code of ethics.
Among the 16 violations were McRae’s illegal detention, the illegal search and seizure of his camera and filing a false report.
According to Fo Niemi, executive director for the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations, who helped McRae with the case, “the commission found the officers’ testimony incoherent and unreliable.”
“They said that basically the evidence showed that they stopped him basically to create hardship for him, and because of his race,” he said.
Though he is happy he won this round against the police, McRae claims he’s been stopped or ticketed by Montreal police at least five other times since then.
The last time, he says, was this past August, when he was accused of driving drunk.
He claims he was about to enter his car with some items for recycling when police stopped him, just in front of his NDG home. The items, he said, included at least one beer bottle.
McRae says police refused to do a field sobriety test and ticketed him.
“For being the driver of a motor vehicle having consumed alcoholic beverages,” he exclaimed, an infraction that he said netted him a fine of $486.
That case is also before the commission.
But McRae has had enough, and now says he’s taking steps to protect himself. He has six video recording devices in his car, including glasses with a built-in camera, dashcams and mobile phones.
“If they don’t want to wear body cameras, then we as Black people should,” he said.
Niemi was outraged.
“It’s unacceptable that in 2019, a Black man in Montreal has to spend money on all these gadgets as a way to protect himself from police misconduct,” he stressed.
“I even changed the colour of my car because the car was white,” McRae laughed. “This is what we gotta do to survive.”
He wants police and the city to take reports of racial profiling seriously if things are to change.
“You just feel like a second-class citizen,” McRae said, shaking his head.
Niemi expects the two police officers in the 2017 case will be suspended.
Montreal police did not respond to Global’s requests for comments.