A Montreal man says sanctions against two local police officers, found guilty of race-based discrimination against him, are too lenient.
“They violated my integrity, my privacy and my dignity.”
On Aug. 27, the Police Ethics Committee ruled that two constables should be suspended for a total of 13 days each without pay. Five days are for committing race-based discrimination.
It’s based on an incident in March 2017 in which McRae claims the two police officers stopped him to verify his ownership of the car he was driving.
He also says they lied about his licence plate not being properly lit, confiscated his camera and deleted the recording, and handcuffed him.
In December 2019, the tribunal found that the two constables violated the police code of ethics.
According to them, the cops committed a number of violations during the incident, including race based intervention, illegal detention, illegal arrest, illegal use of force, illegal seizure, search of camera camera, illegal erasure of files on the camera and falsifying a police report.
McRae, as well as the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR) that helped him with the case, believe that a five-day suspension for race-based discrimination is unfair.
“With the changing times, with the situation of driving while Black becoming more and more serious, five days of suspension without pay in his case is not enough,” said Fo Niemi, executive director of CRARR.
He also doesn’t believe the city or the province see racial profiling of drivers as a serious problem.
Earlier this summer, both the Montreal police and the Quebec government issued guidelines for police street checks, but neither policy addressed the stopping of drivers.
“Any policy or guide or regulation that does not address the issue of driving while Black is absolutely null and void,” insisted Alain Babineau, a former police officer and advisor to CRARR.
On Tuesday, the City of Montreal will hold public consultations on the police department’s new street check policy. Both McRae and Niemi said they hope changes to the policy will include rules around stopping of drivers.
According to Niemi, “If the law stands the way it is, Black lives are cheap.”
McRae pointed out that it’s not the only time he’s been racially profiled by Montreal police while in his car. He has another case against Montreal cops before the two commissions, for an incident that happened in 2019.
“Seriously, I have no trust in the police,” he told reporters.
He said he’s hoping for stiffer penalties if the cops are also found guilty of racial discrimination in the next case.