Video shows Laval police dragging Black man from car by hair
MONTREAL -- Quebec Premier Francois Legault once again denied there is systemic racism in the province following a video that surfaced of a Laval police officer dragging a Black man out of a car by his hair.
During a press conference in the Eastern Townships Legault brushed aside calls for the government to look into systemic racism, saying experts don't agree on a definition. However, he said some new regulations are required to prevent future racist actions by police.
"I think there is some racism in Quebec," he said. "I think the vast majority of Quebecers are not racist."
Legault's comments come as mass protests against police brutality and racism mobilize across the United States. A demonstration in solidarity with the protesters was held in Montreal last weekend and a day later Legault said that while some Quebecers, including police, are racist, he didn't see "an organized system, in the police community or anywhere."
The premier's repeated denials of systemic racism in Quebec come the same week that video of the Laval incident, which occurred on May 25, went viral.
The man and his friends were driving in Laval when they were pulled over by police for driving erratically.
This backseat passenger was asked several times to get out of the car and he responded several times by asking the officers why. Police say on video that they are conducting an investigation, but don’t say of what.
The man’s lawyer Virginie Dufresne Lemire said afterward the officers strike the man, who Dufresne Lemire said would prefer to use his first name only: Samuel. That can be seen and heard on the video.
The officers repeatedly ask him to put his hands behind his back, but the video also shows that Samuel's arm is being pinned above his head by an officer. Samuel is heard saying they are holding his arm so he can't put them behind his back.
Dufresne Lemire said from the police statement, they know police didn't ask any questions about whether the driver had consumed any alcohol, which is what is expected when there is erratic driving and that other information in the statement is contradictory.
"Maybe we’re going to find out that they were indeed doing an inquiry, that it was legal, that they had motives to do this, but for now we don’t have that information," she said. "But even that, the arrest is problematic. You can not take someone out by their hair. This is not something they teach. You’re not supposed to do this."
The men received tickets related to COVID-19 infractions that say they weren't observing distancing rules. As far as Dufresne Lemire knows, there were no other accusations.