Racial Profiling in Repentigny | A bittersweet victory for the plaintiff

The Human Rights Court concludes that a black man arrested behind the wheel of his luxury car was in fact the victim of racial profiling by the police department in the town of Repentigny. Even if he will receive $8,000 in moral damages, François Ducas says he is disappointed by the verdict and regrets the impunity enjoyed by the police officers involved.

Posted at 17:24.

Audrey Pilon Topkara

Audrey Pilon Topkara
The press

“It is very disappointing to see that the Court is insensitive to racism and the problem of racial profiling, confides François Ducas in a telephone interview with The press. I found that the Court lacked rigor in its assessment because the three police officers involved escaped without consequences”.

“The court acknowledged that it was racial profiling, but cleared the police officers by saying that it was not their fault, but “unconscious bias”. This bothers me a little. On the other hand, I am relieved that the court recognizes the existence of ​​racial profiling in Repentigny,” he adds.

The verdict, published on Wednesday by the Human Rights Court, states that François Ducas “suffered a discriminatory attack on his right to protect his dignity” during a police intervention that took place in 2017. The man had been intercepted while driving his BMW car.

Also, “the court is convinced that the police officers would not have turned to randomly eavesdrop on him if he had been white” and that they had “unconscious biases” against a black man driving a luxury vehicle, the ruling reads.

In a press release issued on Wednesday, the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse (CDPDJ) said it was “disappointed” that the verdict did not follow up on its request to the town of Repentigny to “award itself with” a anti-profiling policy” and to “proceed with the collection of data relating to the perceived or suspected racial affiliation of the individuals being wiretapped”.

A traumatic event

In December 2017, the teacher and father of Haitian origin was leaving work driving his BMW when two police officers from the Service de police de la Ville de Repentigny (SPVR) turned around to follow and eavesdrop on him. , to check his identity papers and whether the vehicle belongs to him. Mr. Ducas had not committed any traffic offence.

The man, who claims to have been pulled over without reason on many occasions in the past, refuses to comply and calls 9-1-1, convinced it’s racial profiling.

Still refusing to give his papers, the two policewomen and a sergeant who had come as reinforcements then handcuffed him, arrested him, searched him to finally find his identity papers and his insurance certificate.

The teacher received two tickets a few days later: one for obstructing the action of a peace officer, the other for insulting a peace officer.

After this event, Mr. Ducas filed a complaint with the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse (CDPDJ), which took the case to the Court of Human Rights.

The police intervention turned the life of the man, who describes himself as a model citizen, upside down. He suffered from insomnia for months and rarely leaves the house. Too nervous to drive, his wife has to drive most of the time.

The $8,000 awarded by the judge will not erase the damage suffered, says François Ducas. “They dehumanized me, he is outraged. There is no price for that. All I wanted was an apology. That would have relieved me a lot. »

“Serious” steps

In the wake of the verdict, the town of Repentigny wanted to emphasize in a written statement that the court recognized the serious steps taken since 2018 with the Service de police de la Ville de Repentigny (SPVR) to counter racial profiling.

She claims to have invested “the necessary time and resources” at SPVR to “do things properly” and “make lasting change a reality”.

The city mentions in particular its action plan for a “Police service mobilized for its community”, launched in 2021 just after the publication of a damning report on racial profiling in Repentigny.

We learned that blacks are three times more likely to be arrested than whites, even though they make up only 7% of the city’s population.

“Like everyone else, police officers have both conscious and unconscious biases. In the performance of their tasks, it is important to be aware of this, so that each of their actions is free of any form of discrimination,” declared the municipality, which will not appeal the verdict.

“It is up to those who live in Repentigny to continue the fight, because I have sold my house. I won’t have any more problems in Repentigny: I’m leaving,” says François Ducas.

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