Human Rights Commission finds that Montreal police racially profiled Black man in 2017
MONTREAL -- The Human Rights Commission had ruled that a Black man was racially profiled by Montreal police (SPVM).
Errol Burke was pinned to the ground at gunpoint in a depanneur on Decarie Blvd. in 2017 when police said he looked like a suspect they were looking for in a nearby stabbing.
Burke was buying milk.
"They held me at gunpoint simply because I was a Black man," he said. "I said what does the guy look like. I guess he's a Black guy and they looked at me uncomfortably."
Police tackled and handcuffed him sure they had their man even though he was far older than the suspect and wearing different clothing.
Burke said the arrest left him afraid in his own neighbourhood.
"Eyes over my shoulders. I had difficulty going outside, I had some concerns about walking around," he said.
His racial profiling complaint was initially rejected by the police ethics commissioner, but the decision was overturned on appeal.
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The Human Rights Commission has now found that Burke "was a victim of discrimination," and police were ordered to pay him $45,000.
The decision, however, is not binding.
"Basically, it's a demand to the SPVM to pay up because a violation has occurred, said Fo Niemi of the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR).
Niemi said it's rare that the police actually have to pay. In the past year, two cases were thrown out due to delays.
With the SPVM report confirming systemic bias in the force, Niemi said it is important for victims to speak up.
"These complaints when they are filed and eventually, when they are upheld, they establish a record," he said.
The SPVM did not respond to CTV requests for comment.
"There's going to be accountability and that's what you need to give people like myself some sort of confidence in the system," said Burke.
Burke added that even when he was released, the officers treated him roughly.
While being detained, he pointed out, the stabbing suspect got away.