15-year-old girl's arrest in NDG park shows that police have profiling problem, critics say

The mother of a 15-year-old girl who was arrested last month in an NDG park—too roughly, say critics, and singled out among her friends—is calling for an end to police profiling.

Montreal police are set to release a new policy on street checks on Wednesday, after years of calls to end the practice.

Lisa Sim, the mother of the girl, is the latest to urge for more accountability in how police decide whom to approach and how.

“Her friends who were witnesses [were] also feeling that they only went to her—they did not go to anybody else,” Sim said.

Her daughter, Jia-Li Riddell, is Asian, and Sim says she was the only teenager in the group who was a visible minority.

The teens were drinking wine in a park at the time and weren’t keeping enough distance from each other. Police were called to disperse them, but they only arrested Riddell.

“No 15-year-old girl should be treated like that by the police,” said Sim. 

Montreal police wouldn’t comment on the specific case.

Sim isn’t the only one angry about the incident, which was caught on video.

“Why, they ask, did the police department target the only visible minority child in the place and why did they use that type of force?” asked city councillor Marvin Rotrand, who represents NDG.

At a meeting in front of a police station in NDG, others gathered to back up the family.

“We are accustomed to the use of this excessive force used against our Black boys and men by the police,” said Yvonne Sam of the Black Community Resource Centre. 

“Now here we’re faced with videotape evidence of excessive force used against a 15-year-old Asian girl. This cannot be allowed to continue.”

Fo Niemi of the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR) said the arrest was “abusive and “excessive.”

“We are talking about reiminaging a police work, whether there should've been a different way for police officers to intervene, especially dealing with young people,” he said.

Riddell hasn’t yet received a summons, but she was told she’d get a fine for public drinking and resisting arrest. She may also be charged with interfering with the work of an officer, she heard.

It’s an overreaction, said Cesar Manuel of the Filipino Association of Montreal and Suburbs. Part of Riddell’s family is Filipino.

“I want the case to be dropped,” said Manuel. 

“Kids are kids,” he said, and should be given a bit of lenience “if they make some mistake in this kind of time that we are suffering from, in this time of pandemic.”

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