Quebec Human Rights Tribunal rules in favor of black man racially profiled by Repentigny police
The Quebec Human Rights Tribunal has ordered the city of Repentigny, Quebec to pay $8,000 in damages to a black man after he was racially profiled by police.
“On the one hand, they recognize that I was the victim of racial profiling but at the same time, the police get away with it,” said François Ducas.
back in November 2020The Quebec Human Rights Commission has ruled that three Repentigny police officers racially profiled Ducas, a high school teacher, when they stopped and arrested him in 2017.
Ducas was driving to work in his BMW when the police stopped him.
He asked why he was being arrested and the police handcuffed and searched him. He received two tickets, one for obstructing police work and the other for insulting an officer.
The tickets were later rejected.
“Never in my life would I have thought that I would be handcuffed like a criminal one morning on my way to work in Quebec,” Ducas said.
Now, all these years later, he said he was still nervous every time he left the house and relied on his wife to drive because he feared being arrested.
Human Rights Commission backs Ducas
After filing a complaint with the help of the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR), Ducas obtained a ruling in his favor from the Human Rights Commission in November 2020.
The commission said the city of Repentigny and the three officers should pay Ducas $35,000 in moral and punitive damages.
This decision was not binding, but the Human Rights Commission represented Ducas when his case came before the Human Rights Tribunal.
“This is an important victory in the fight against racial profiling and the stigmatization of black communities,” said Myrlande Pierre, vice-president of the commission.
« Systematically intercepting black people behind the wheel, and without reason, is unfortunately a phenomenon that continues to spread and must be eradicated. »
More needs to be done, anti-racism advocate says
Fo Niemi, director of CRARR, said it was a small victory for Ducas, but more needed to be done.
« This is the first judicial confirmation of the existence of racial profiling in Repentigny —judicial confirmation because there has been so much denial and contention from the police, » Niemi said.
In a press release, the city indicates that it will not appeal the judgment and will continue to focus its efforts on its action plan.
« Our community expects deep, thoughtful change and community policing that meets its needs. That’s why we are pursuing the actions identified in the ‘Evolving with Our Community’ action plan, » the statement read.
Since the judgment, the City and the Repentigny police department say they have invested time and resources to ensure that their practices are free from all forms of racism and discrimination. The judgment, issued on July 20, recognizes the city’s efforts to resolve the issue.
#PRESSRELEASE#DrivingWhileBlack : the @CDPDJ1 signs a new victory against #racialprofiling. The @CityRepentigny and 2 of his policemen @PoliceRPY is ordered to pay $8,000 in #moraldamages< /a>.
👉 Check out our press release here: https://t.co/XXScIvbhNQ pic.twitter.com/KKRkclPbeH
But the city’s statement admits that whatever it does, conscious and unconscious bias will not be eliminated because there « is no instant fix ».
« Therefore, we are continuing, together with the community and its organizations, the initiatives already in place as well as those to come, » the statement said.
Either way, Ducas said that wasn’t enough. He said he was still waiting for the mayor and the police to issue a public apology. He has since moved away from the city to avoid another incident.
« I feel like I don’t belong so instead of standing up for myself all the time, I want to leave that behind and start my life over and become the Francois Ducas that I was before. »
Ducas said he was donating the awarded money to an organization that fights racial profiling.
For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to stories of success within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project that Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.