Driving While Black protest rolls through Montreal ahead of new police policy

Driving black

A convoy of luxury cars made its way through Montreal Sunday protesting racial profiling and sending a message to Montreal police (SPVM) the day before the force is set to reveal its policy on street checks.

Random police traffic stops, organizers of Driving While Black say, target minority groups.

“Random verifications, ‘Is this your car?’ ‘Is this stolen?’ It’s just, you name it, seatbelt,” said protester Joel de Bellefeuille.

Human rights advocates say “Driving while Black” is an issue that’s been going on for decades.

“It’s been identified through various reports all the way back to 1984,” said Alain Babineau of the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR).

Cars from across the island met up to show solidarity Sunday.

One driver was Kenrick McRae, who drives a Mercedes and said sometimes he gets pulled over multiple times a month.

“I got friends, white friends who drive Mercedes, drive Lamborghinis, and they don’t get pulled over as much,” he said. “Driving while Black in Montreal, I think sometimes it’s a crime because when they can’t get us on the street, they just stop us for no reason. I feel like a second-class citizen. You work, you’re paying your taxes, but you’re still getting this harassment.”

A report found Black and Indigenous Montrealers are four times more likely to be stopped by police and the SPVM will adopt a new policy this week to combat racial profiling.

“It’s a small step towards them finally saying, ‘Yes, there’s an issue with profiling,’ but at the same time they’re doing it because of the pressure we’ve put on them,” said Denburk Reid of Montreal Community Cares.

Until the groups see change, they say they won’t be slowing down their efforts.

“We’re looking for ultimately getting a province-wide policy incorporated into the police act which will provide some regulations around checks of all sorts, whether it be pedestrian or traffic checks,” said Babineau.

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