Black youths accuse STM of racial profiling
Published Sunday, February 21, 2010 12:23PM EST
Accused of racial profiling on the metro system, the Montreal Transit Corp. is being taken to the human rights commission by a group of black youths.
The group, supported by Montreal black youth network DESTA and the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations, said they were targeted in two violent interventions in November 2009.
"I was on the ground when they put their knees on my back and tried to put the handcuffs on my wrists," said Samantha Hyman-Roberts, who said she was asked for proof of payment on board a metro, but had already thrown her ticket away.
"They put on leather gloves and they handled her quite rough. They manhandled her off the train," said plaintiff Taejhia James.
Three youths were fined $314 each for obstruction of justice; Hyman-Roberts was fined an additional $214 for tossing out her metro ticket.
Community worker Chris Vaughn also said he saw police questioning seven black teens at the Vendome metro station earlier this month.
Vaughn said police turned on him when he attempted to intervene.
"The people who are supposed to be protecting us are giving us this rude attitude as if we're not important or our say doesn't matter," said Vaughan.
The group is denouncing what they say is the STM's practices of intercepting metro riders to check proof of payment, and targeted treatment towards people of colour in metro stations in Little Burgundy, such as George Vanier, Lionel Groulx and St. Henri, as well as other areas with a high black representation.
"The STM does not tolerate racial profiling and as far as we know, there is no racial profiling," said Marvin Rotrand, vice-chair of the STM.
The STM said this is the first it has heard of these cases and won't be taking the allegations lightly.