The Black Coalition of Quebec has attached a figure to its class-action lawsuit against the City of Montreal for racial profiling, abuse of authority and other injustices carried out by the police against visible minorities.
Dan Philip, executive of the BCQ says the $171,000,000 that the organization is demanding is justifiable because of the high number of Montrealers who have been victimized by the police.
“As we have seen from the recent report by those two researchers, more visible minorities than we anticipated have been victimized by the police and many of them are coming forward to be part of this action,” he told the CONTACT.
In a study released in early October, researchers mandated by the City of Montreal revealed that between 2014 and 2017 police officers disproportionately targeted Blacks and Arabs and Indigenous people for “street checks” or “information stops.”
The report provoked admission of shock from both the police chief Sylvain Caron and Valerie Plante, mayor of Montreal, but both shied away from admission of racial profiling.
“What we want is to put an end to the arbitrary stops and false charges that have become so prevalent when the police deals with people in our community and other minorities in the city.”
Philip says all of society stands to benefit when there’s a constructive relationship between minority groups and the police.
“Because police is a necessary tool in society and should be a protector to all citizens, we shouldn’t see them as (adversaries)… our fight is not against the police, our fight is against injustice.”
He added that he has also been hearing of increase incidents of police stopping individuals and administering sobriety tests that sometimes end up with false charges and other forms of injustices that sometimes lead to imprisonments.
And he urges the community to stand up against this kind of unnecessary victimization.
In general we are finding that many in our community have adopted a laissez-faire and what-can I-do attitude towards this type of victimization and tend to do nothing. “But with that attitude, we wouldn’t bring change or we wouldn’t go forward,” Philip reminded the community.
“A lot of people refuse to stand up because they are afraid of the negativity, but they have to know that you can’t make an omelet without cracking the eggs you have to take a stand against injustice sometimes in spite of the kickback.”
Philip says that since he launched this class action lawsuit the attacks against him and the BCQ have become more vitriolic.
“So many people have been telling us ‘if we don’t like it here… go back to Haiti.”
We have to accept the fact that people will be against you, when you take a position.
On November 5, the BCQ deposited the suit to the Superior Court of Quebec on behalf of the organization and lead plaintiff Alexandre LaMontagne, a Verdun resident who said he was profiled by police officers outside a nightclub in Old Montreal in August 2017. He was ticketed as well as charged with resisting arrest and obstruction of justice. The charges were dropped a year later.
The suit as presented is on behalf of: Any racialized individual who lived in Montréal between August 14, 2017 and January 11, 2019 (for the person who suffered bodily injury) or between July 11, 2018 and January 11, 2019 (for the person who has not suffered bodily injury), following a proactive intervention by a police officer of the City of Montreal, was arrested, arrested and/or detained without justification and was subjected to racial profiling, a violation of his rights as a citizen and/or any other violation of his rights guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and/or the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.”
It is asking for exactly $171,020,000 for the thousands of Montrealers who have come forward so far. And Philip is urging those who feel they have been victimized by the police to come forward, or reach the BCQ at 514-489-3830.