After failing to deliver, race-relations groups call for Montreal police to address profiling

A race-relations group and city councillor are calling on the Montreal police to deliver on a promise to create a new policy to address racial profiling.

Set to be delivered in March, the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR) held a virtual news conference Thursday alongside independent Snowdown councillor Marvin Rotrand to call for the promise to be kept.

CRARR said it understands that given the pandemic there might be a delay, but last fall, Montreal city council unanimously adopted a motion presented by Rotrand to have police immediately cease random street checks after a report showed indigenous women were stopped 11 times more often than the general public, black people five times more often and people of Arab descent twice as often.

Montreal police did not admit to racial profiling but did admit that a systematic bias existed within the force and that they would address it by March. That deadline has now come and gone.

CRARR and other groups representing minorities have, meantime, received anecdotal reports of more minorities being stopped and given heavy fines by police while they are already struggling financially. 

Tiffany Callender, executive director of the Cote-des-Neiges Black Community Association explained the effect this is having on visible minorities.

“What we are experiencing is families that are scared of sending their kids outside -- and this is the part about COVID-19, when you don’t have a private backyard or private outdoor space and your teenagers want to go outside and get fresh air, they’re really afraid of them going out because in their usual context, they’re often followed by the police, stopped, asked questions,” she said.

A second motion calling for the new Montreal police policy will be brought to city council on Monday.

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