Former Project Montreal candidate claims to be victim of racial profiling
Resident of Rivière-des-Prairies in Montreal and still involved in politics, Sacha-Wilky Merazil was arrested and handcuffed on Sunday, in what he denounces as a case of racial profiling.
It was while he was returning home, after buying food for his daughter, that the facts occurred.
“When I arrived near my house, several police vehicles were blocking the street. After a while, I asked a policewoman if I could come by to go home. She accepted, but another vehicle then arrived to block my way,” he said.
According to his explanation, the police were looking for a suspect in a history of domestic violence and affirmed that he matched the description. However, no description of the suspect was provided to him.
With his cell phone, Mr. Merazil was able to film part of the intervention, which the author of these lines was able to consult. Throughout the video, he remains calm, despite the aggressiveness of the police, who violently pull him out of his vehicle and then handcuff him. They also refused to identify themselves, despite a request to do so, and did not give him a reason for his arrest.
In the last captured moments, a policeman tramples the camera, before grabbing the phone to interrupt the recording.
According to him, Mr. Merazil was then put in the back seat of a police car, where he was suffocating due to the scorching heat.
“I had to say that I was asthmatic for a policewoman to finally lower the window a little.
After what seemed like an eternity, Mr. Merazil was finally released, without apology or explanation, as the police had no choice, he said, but to accept that he was not the person sought. .
He claims to have suffered injuries during the intervention, and indicates that his phone was also damaged.
The president of the Legal Clinic of Saint-Michel, Me Fernando Belton considers the intervention « very problematic ». There he denotes several “racial profiling indices”.
“The driver is not violent. The use of force appears disproportionate. There are three police officers who intervene violently with a driver who does not resist,” he pointed out.
He also points to the problematic nature of the fact that the police did not inform him of his rights and that they refused to identify himself. “There are many irregularities in this intervention,” he reiterated.
« In cases of racial profiling, we often see this reality where police intercept all black people, ignoring the description given or even in the absence of such a description, » recalled Mr. Belton.
In such a situation, he recommends cooperating and noting as many details as possible in connection with the intervention.
Professor at Concordia University, Ted Rutland also takes a critical look at the events.
“Research for decades has shown that people of color are often arrested on the pretext that they match a description. This is an excuse that the police use very often, and they are never forced that there really was a wanted person with a similar appearance, ”he summarized.
In 2020, he himself published the results of research on Quietude Squad, which showed that black people were up to 42 times more likely to be arrested by the squad than white people.
“It shows us what happens very often. We have given a lot of resources to the police to reduce gun violence which, according to the media and the police, is caused by black people. This is what will happen,” he warned.
At the time of writing his lines, it had not yet been possible to obtain a reaction from the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM).