Protesters took to the streets of Montreal on Sunday to protest racial profiling and systemic racism ahead of a new Montreal police street check policy set to be unveiled on Wednesday.
“Driving while Black” is a phenomenon that Tiffany Callender, the executive director of the Côte-des-Neiges Black Community Association, said happens to Black people every single day.
“Often we are stopped and asked questions that have nothing to do with our driving matters or driving conditions but rather really just an insinuation of maybe you shouldn’t be driving this car,” she said.
Protester Kendrick MacRae said he is no stranger to this.
Last year, MacRae said he was fined $486 for “being the driver of a road vehicle, having consumed alcoholic beverages,” as indicated on the statement of offence.
MacRae said he did not have anything to drink, nor was he driving his car at the time.
The case has since been under investigation.
He’s now protesting to help push for change, which he says is long overdue.
“This thing keeps happening over and over and nothing is being done about it — it’s only talk, talk, talk,” he said.
The protest consisted of groups of people driving their luxury cars from Kirkland and Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve towards Namur metro station, where a larger demonstration took place.
“It starts with little changes like that can change the behaviour of new police, maybe the new generation of police that will go in and hopefully in the long term there will be a difference,” said Thierry Carries Naag, vice-president of Hilarious Riders.
The Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR) receives daily complaints about racial profiling, according to executive director Fo Niemi.
“There’s a kind of racist stereotype operating to the effect that if you’re Black and you drive a fancy car, you’re a suspect of some kind,” said Niemi.
The Montreal Police Service is set to unveil its new policy for street checks on Wednesday. Activists say the measure is a long-overdue first step to justice and systemic change.
“We have to see policy that really brings accountability and that should’ve been done a long time ago,” said Callender.
“These micro-aggressions ware on our lives and on who we are and we should have the right to drive while Black, proud and free.”