Teacher blames police for racial profiling
Published Wednesday, April 14, 2010 1:33PM EDT
A 26-year-old teacher from Lasalle said he is the victim of racial profiling by Montreal police after he was abruptly confronted by officers Friday, then arrested and fined.
Farid Marlon Charles says he was fined $144 for wandering without being able to justify his presence after he was stopped by police after waiting for a friend in his car outside a Lasalle mall.
While Charles was waiting in the passenger seat for his friend to pick up food when the driver side door was opened, he said.
"A police officer asked me for license and registration," said Charles.
"I told the officer I'm a passenger I don't have that information, which seemed logical at the time."
Charles said the officer then demanded he produce some identification, and Charles declined, saying he wanted to know why he was being asked.
"He told me to be quiet, to sit down and do as I say," said Charles.
When he persisted in asking questions, the officer said there had been a number of burglaries in the neighbourhood, then came around to the other side of the car.
Police say they were justified in questioning Charles because there is drug activity in the neighbourhood, and the car in which Charles was sitting had no license plate.
"In this case, the officers repeatedly tried to ask the individual why he was there. He categorically refused so they arrested him, which they were justified in doing," said Montreal police chief inspector Paul Chablo.
Charles said he was roughed up unnecessarily.
"He grabbed my garment, my jacket, and said come out of the vehicle," said Charles.
Charles said the officer then took him out of the car, pinned him to the ground, and handcuffed him before putting him in the back of the squad car.
"Next thing you know, I'm being shot to the floor as if I was a punching bag," said Charles, who was admitted to hospital the next day to x-ray his shoulder following the incident.
Charles is described by friends as a role model for young black men in the neighbourhood.
"This gentleman has no past… so this is why I'm on his horse. I'm going to ride with him," said Roy Glanville, the owner of the Lasalle Caribbean restaurant.
"If our rights are not protected, then there's a problem somewhere."
"Fits a pattern"
Charles intends to file a complaint with the police ethics commissioner within the coming days.
"It fits a pattern of how a simple stop and search by the police leads to use of force, handcuffs, physical and psychological trauma," said race relations advocate Fo Niemi, executive director of the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations.