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Terrebonne won't accept racial profiling decision from Quebec Human Rights Commission

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Terrebonne says it isn't going to accept recommendations made by the Quebec Human Rights Commission after it passed a racial profiling decision against the municipality.

The man at the centre of the dispute, Jonathan Woodley, said he can’t count how many times he has been racially profiled by the police.

"Every single time I’m about to get pulled over by the police I call my wife to let her know I’m about to be pulled over by police officers yet again," he said Wednesday.

In the early morning hours on July 7, 2019, he said two Terrebonne police officers pulled him over on the allegation he was driving a car registered to a woman — something the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR) says is gender-based discrimination, and a tactic the police use.

"Police say because you’re driving a car registered to a woman’s name, it’s grounds for a stop," said Fo Niemi, the executive director of CRARR. "It’s gender-based discrimination intersected with race because it’s very rare we hear white male drivers stopped because he’s driving a car with a woman’s name. But with black male drivers, it's very common."

In a video provided to CTV News by Woodley from the morning of the incident, Woodley is heard telling the officer he did a u-turn in order to run his licence plate and therefore couldn’t have known who the car’s owner was prior to tailing him.

When he was free to go, Woodley can be heard in the video asking for the police officer's badge number. "I’d like your badge number, please. He won’t even give me his badge number” he said in the video.

If it weren’t for his cell phone and dash cam videos, he said he wouldn’t have been able to bring his case before the Human Rights Commission — the first step in a human rights complaint.

"I just want it to stop," Woodley said "I just want to be able to get in the car, pick up food for my kids, and not have to worry about a police officer pulling me over."

The commission recently decided that the police did racially profile Woodley and is asking the Municipality of Terrebonne and two police officers to pay him $13,000 in damages. It's also calling for the police to commit to more training.

But the municipality said it rejects the decision and the recommendations it came with as it takes issue with the facts that have been presented. It has contested the decision and will have to be heard in the Human Rights Tribunal. A date has not yet been set.

Meanwhile, one of the officers in question, Jean-Philippe Girard, is scheduled to appear before the Police Ethics Committee on September 20.

Woodley said racial profiling in Terrebonne happens too often and he hopes his story will inspire other Black people to file human rights complaints against the police force when they are racially profiled.

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