'An unusual time to be driving': Man condemns latest traffic stop by Montreal police
Anti-racism advocates are calling on police in Montreal to modify their policy on street checks again after a West Island man said he was recently stopped at night and told by an officer it was an "unusual time to be driving."
Quebec anti-racism group Red Coalition spoke out on Monday about the incident, saying it’s just the latest example of someone in Montreal being pulled over for what is often referred to as "driving while Black."
Cyrus Senior detailed his experience, saying that it happened a few weeks ago after he finished DJing at a prom.
The 27-year-old was driving a friend home afterwards when he was pulled over by police at about 2:30 a.m.
Senior, who is Black, said he tried to keep calm, and focused on keeping his hands visible and cooperating with police, all guidelines he learned at a young age.
"Do whatever is asked, no matter what it is, keep a smile on my face. Don't act, feel, seem aggressive. That's always my main concern because I feel the nicer I am, the better chance it will go smoothly," he said.
When the officer told him the reason he was pulled over was because it's an "unusual time to be driving," Senior said he felt confused.
He said he’s been stopped at least 10 times since he started driving. While he did not receive a ticket, the officer noted the car belonged to a woman. Senior had to then explain it was his mother's car.
When his mother later shared the experience on Facebook, it went viral, and that’s when he realized it was important to speak up.
"I want this to stop," he said.
"You hear it all the time in the United States and also in Canada, where one thing can lead to another and then someone could not be coming home because of how someone felt or they felt someone was being aggressive," he added.
"I don't want there to be a day where one of my close friends or cousins, uncles, don't come home to their family, their friends, because of something that led to a stop from how people look."
The Red Coalition said it hears multiple similar complaints each week.
"We're pretty sure that's a case of racial profiling," said Alain Babineau, director of racial profiling and public security for the coalition.
In 2020, Montreal police implemented a new street check policy requiring officers to explain the reason they stopped someone.
But a recent independent report by several Quebec universities found racialized people are still disproportionately targeted by police.
Police data from 2021 found that Indigenous Montrealers were six times more likely to be stopped than were white people in the city. The data also showed that Black people were three-and-a-half times more likely to be stopped than were white people, and Arabs were two-and-a-half times more likely to be stopped by police compared with white people.
Montreal's police chief has said he would not impose a moratorium on street checks despite the report's conclusions.
The Red Coalition is calling on him to change the policy.
The Montreal police media relations department said it would not comment on the case "in order to avoid any influence on a possible judicial, ethical or disciplinary process."
It added that anyone who feels like their rights have been violated during a police intervention has the right to file a complaint with the SPVM or an independent organization.