Montreal racial profiling victim awarded $33K in precedent-setting case
Christina Commisso, CTVNews.ca
Published Wednesday, June 18, 2014 8:03AM EDT
A Montreal man has been granted an unprecedented $33,000 in compensation after the Quebec Human Rights Commission found he was the victim of racial profiling.
In April 2010, two police officers removed Farid Charles from his car and arrested him for loitering as he waited for a friend outside a take-out restaurant in the Montreal borough of LaSalle.
The ticket was eventually thrown out as Charles was on private property and the city bylaw didn’t apply.
“Your body's just frozen, you feel cold all of sudden,” Charles told CTV Montreal of the arrest. “That's how I felt when the handcuffs (came on), and I was on my back and I was being yanked up.”
On Tuesday, the province’s Human Rights Commission ordered the City of Montreal and the two Montreal police officers involved in the arrest to pay Charles $33,000.
The Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations says the victory is precedent-setting because it includes a $25,000 penalty for moral damages due to racial profiling.
The centre’s executive director Fo Niemi said the amount awarded for moral damages is usually much lower.
“We interpret this $25,000 of damages as a signal that the Human Rights Commission is sending to the City of Montreal and the Montreal Police Service to the effect that it has to take racial profiling seriously,” Niemi said.
As the city experiences greater immigration and police officers face “complex calls”, Montreal police say they are taking the ruling seriously.
Fady Dagher, who’s in charge of the police department’s action plan against racial and social profiling, said it’s vital that officers “make sure the intervention is impartial.”
Meanwhile, Charles said the compensation is bittersweet.
“I don't have room for animosity or hatred in my heart,” he said. “Of course I've moved on, but I'm not going to forget what happened.”
With a report from CTV Montreal’s Nadine Ishak