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Montreal man says he was arbitrarily stopped by SPVM over stolen coat

Click to play video: 'Montreal man launches legal action over police intervention caught on camera' Montreal man launches legal action over police intervention caught on camera
WATCH: A Montreal man says he's taking legal action against Montreal police after an incident he calls racial profiling. The man says he was arbitrarily stopped over a coat he was wearing. As Global’s Gloria Henriquez reports, a video of the incident making the rounds on social media prompted police to explain what happened, on social media – Jan 19, 2021

A Montreal man says he’s taking legal action against the Montreal police following an incident he calls “racial profiling”.

Andy Basora believes he was arbitrarily stopped over a stolen coat at his home’s doorstep in the borough of Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension.

“He was going through my pockets and putting my stuff on the car and everything when I did nothing,” Basora told Global News.

“I feel like he treated me like a criminal.”

Read more: Montreal police issue report on ‘realities’ of policing, including racial profiling

Police told Global News in an email that a few weeks prior, a coat similar to the one Basora was wearing had been stolen violently, with pepper spray involved.

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“While patrolling the streets around the area, the same police officers that took the initial statement on the robbery saw a similarity between the victim’s red coat and turned around to go ask the man questions,” police told Global News in an email.

“Officers determined that he wasn’t the suspect they were looking for and he had no implication in the event.”

Basora believes he was targeted because of the way he looks.

“I don’t think that if I wasn’t the colour the I am that I would be asked that by the police,” Basora said.

Basora was also bothered by the fact one of the two officers was not wearing a mask.

“He’s an officer right? I feel like he should be an example for everyone,” Basora said.

Click to play video: 'Coalition of community leaders calls for end to systemic racism within the Montreal police department' Coalition of community leaders calls for end to systemic racism within the Montreal police department
Coalition of community leaders calls for end to systemic racism within the Montreal police department – Jun 10, 2020

Police said that in certain situations in which a quick intervention is needed, it’s not always possible to wear a mask but that “the SPVM asks its staff to wear (the mask) during interventions and to respect sanitary rules.”

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Basora, however, thinks the incident wasn’t fair.

His lawyer, Fernando Balton, plans to file a complaint to the Quebec Human Rights Commission and to the police ethics committee.

“We want that police officer to be sanctioned, of course, but we want to send a message also that enough is enough,” Balton said.

“We are in 2021 and we think that every young male should be treated the same regardless of the way they look.”

Read more: Montreal police accused of racial profiling after arresting 24-year-old man

The Centre for Race Relations (CRARR) says it isn’t aware of the case but its executive director, Fo Niemi, believes it’s always important to file complaints when this type of incident happens

“It’s a civic duty to file complaints, to take action and to try to go as far as possible,” Niemi said.

“In part, it’s to send a message that constitutional or civil rights cannot be violated without consequence.”

Niemi said the treatment of complaints can take a long time, but it’s worth pursuing.

As for Basora, his goal is that no one else goes through what he did.

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“Stuff like this doesn’t need to continue to happen in the community,” Basora said.

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