Black man with 'Quebecois' name files complaint against Longueuil police
Published Wednesday, July 28, 2010 2:21PM EDT
A South Shore man is seeking $30,000 in damages and has filed a human rights complaint because he says he was a target of racial discrimination by Longueuil police officers.
Joel Debellefeuille he says he was unfairly targeted because he was driving a BMW and his name doesn't match the colour of his skin.
Debellefeuille, a black man who was adopted by Quebecois parents, says he was doing nothing wrong when he was stopped a year ago by police officers while on his way to get ice cream with his family in Greenfield Park.
"I said, ‘Why are you stopping me?' He walked up with kind of an arrogant look to him and just said, ‘Hey guy, is this your car?'" said Debellefeuille, who declined to offer the officer his ID.
"I said, 'Come on, you guys are fishing… you guys have nothing. I didn't do anything… this is unbelievable. What? I can't be black and drive a BMW?'"
Debellefeuille said he felt discriminated against and argued with the officer, only to end up with two tickets – one for refusal to hand over his ID and another because his insurance has expired two days prior.
Debellefeuille paid for the expired insurance ticket, but decided to contest the refusal to provide ID ticket in municipal court.
When he saw the police report a year later, he took his case directly to the Centre for Research on Race Relations.
The report clearly showed racial discrimination, said Adrienne Gibson of CRARR.
"(The report stated) he was a black man, and it didn't correspond to the owner because ‘Debellefeuille' is a Quebecois name," she said.
"The people have to know what is being said or what is being written on the back of the tickets. If I didn't fight it, I wouldn't have any idea," said Debellefeuille.
Debellefeuille has filed complaints with both the Human Rights Commission and the Longueuil police.
Longueuil police declined to comment on the case before a judgment is made by the Human Rights Commission.