The Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission has asked the City of Montreal and two police officers to pay a former Concordia student $45,000 damages after she alleged she was illegally arrested and detained.

Amal Asmar said she was walking on Ste. Catherine St. after studying at the Concordia library late one night in 2010 when she sat down on a bench near Atwater while wearing a headscarf.

She said a police car pulled up in front of her and two officers began questioning her aggressively. She was then arrested and given more than $1,000 in fines, one of which was for using city property other than its intended use.

Amal sought help from the Centre for Research Action on Race Relations to file a complaint. After seven years, the city and police withdrew the fines, but the commission stated that Asmar was racially and socially profiled, awarding her the moral and punitive damages.

CRARR director Fo Niemi said the decision was precedent-setting since both social and racial profiling was acknowledged.

“She was sitting in the park… in an area where there’s known to be a lot of homeless or street people that look Inuit or Aboriginal,” he said. “The way she looked at the time, long frizzy hair, with a scarf, past midnight, she looked like the profile of a homeless woman.”

The city and police were given until last Friday to pay but failed to do so. Niemi said the case will now go to the Human Rights Tribunal and could take another six months to resolve.