Montreal man alleges racial profiling at Hudson's Bay
Published Wednesday, November 14, 2018 7:41PM EST
A black man says two security guards held him for nearly two hours at a Hudson’s Bay store in Montreal on suspicion that he was using a fake ID, and he’s accusing the store of racial profiling.
Michael Bryan has filed a complaint with the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal and is demanding a full apology. But the store denies that race was a factor and says staff followed fraud prevention measures.
“This is racial profiling at the highest level and I don’t deserve this,” Bryan told CTV Montreal.
The incident happened on Sept. 16 at a downtown Bay location. Bryan says he was buying a watch and accepted an offer from a salesperson to apply for a credit card, which would come with a rebate.
The salesperson asked Bryan for a piece of ID, and he provided his driver’s licence.
Shortly after, Bryan says, two security guards approached him.
“At this point I’m a little bit nervous and I’m asking them, ‘Why are you taking me through all this?’” Bryan said.
“And they said that your driver’s licence, which I was going to renew the next day anyway, is fake and we have reasons (to believe) that all your identification is also fake. I said that’s crazy.”
For the next two hours, Bryan says, he was held at the store.
Witness Kris Gupta says he saw the security guards use force against Bryan.
“I did my best to intervene to calm the situation down but I was told to mind my own business and to get out of the way. He was forcefully shoved into the elevator, physically by the two security guards,” he said.
When police arrived, officers checked Bryan’s ID and determined that it was, in fact, real, he says.
“They ran the identification through the machine and said, ‘Michael, this is a valid driver’s licence. You’re more than fine to go on your way. After which point I was embarrassed, upset,” he said.
The Bay responded to the allegations in a statement Wednesday afternoon.
"We take these allegations seriously. The interaction with this individual was based on fraud prevention measures, and in no way was race a factor. We are committed to always delivering a positive customer experience in our stores," a Bay spokesperson said in a statement.
Security guards in Quebec have the right to stop someone, but the rules are clear about making an arrest, according to retired RCMP officer Alain Babineau.
“They can arrest someone, but then they have to immediately turn that person over to the police – immediately, within reason. In this case here, Mr. Bryan was detained and held for a significant length of time,” Babineau said.
The Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations is filing the human rights complaint against the company.
With a report from CTV Montreal’s Stephane Giroux