Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly sourced Terrebonne police ethics commissioner, when it fact it was the Quebec police ethics commissioner.
The Quebec police ethics commissioner cited eight Terrebonne police officers for discrimination and racial profiling after an investigation. It’s a major victory in what advocates call a case of “driving while Black” and for Pierre-Marcel Monsanto.
The Terrebonne resident constantly worries that local police will pull him over and resort to violence.
“Whenever I’m driving, I say, maybe today can be my last day in life,” said Monsanto.
From September 2018 to August 2019 the man claims police stopped him for various reasons 37 times, often with his children in the car.
“They say ‘Papa, why have we been stopped so many times,’” he added.
He doesn’t have the heart to tell them the truth.
The father even downsized from an SUV to a small Nissan vehicle in an attempt to have fewer police interactions, but they didn’t stop.
With the help of the Center for Research Action on Race Relations (CRARR), Monsanto filed 12 complaints against the Terrebonne police.
“We were rather, shall we say shocked at the quantity of stops,” said CRARR Executive Director Fo Niemi.
The police ethics commissioner’s investigation validated eight of the 12 complaints, along with citing eight officers for discrimination and racial profiling.
“I’m feeling very happy with that,” said Monsanto, “it’s a big signal for the Black community, for Black people, because I’m not the only person in this situation.”
Niemi says in his years-long fight against racial profiling in Quebec, he’s never seen a decision so important.
“There is something very, very, wrong, very, very bad going on in Terrebonne,” said Niemi, adding “we need to have in a very urgent matter, corrective action and preventive action.”
Terrebonne police refused to comment on the matter. The commissioner will now bring the case to the police ethics committee, while the Quebec Human Rights Commission continues to carry out its own investigation. That decision is expected by the end of the year.
However, Monsanto doubts he will stay in Terrebonne long enough to experience the change he wishes to see.
“My life is, you know, the priority. So my security is priority. So we need to move,” he said Thursday.