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Montrealers allege 'racial profiling' during police intervention on Saint-Jean Baptiste Day

Organizers of a Montreal Caribbean festival are looking for clarity from police as to why a large group of officers interrupted their pre-festival barbecue on Saint-Jean Baptiste Day.
"It was like a swarm of bees," said party organizer Gemma Raeburn-Baynes, vice-president of the Spice Island Cultural Day Association of Quebec.
While police say they were there to investigate a noise complaint, organizers told CTV they were puzzled and disappointed by the police presence, which they felt was unusually large as compared to their party. 

In a video sent to CTV News, several Montreal officers, as well as others from the RCMP, are seen speaking to partygoers in front of several police vehicles parked nearby the venue – a restaurant parking lot off Saint-Jacques Street in Lachine.
"To me, I think I think it was racial profiling," said Raeburn-Baynes, who estimated there were about 15 officers at the intervention.
"It just didn’t make sense and even if as I said, the first cop said it was two complaints of noise. I mean, it was 8:30, it was St-Jean Baptist. Everybody in their backyard was having an event."
She suggested that if there really was an issue with noise, they could have sent one police car to ask them to turn down the music "and be on their merry way."
She says police arrived at around 8:40 p.m. on June 24. The party was a fundraiser for the Spice Island Cultural Festival set to commence next weekend. People had gathered to barbeque and celebrate the holiday. Raeburn-Baynes said they were not selling alcohol.
"Children were playing in the yard, parents were there, mothers and fathers and seniors and young people, and they got scared (by the officers)," she said. "It was really disheartening. It killed the party, we had such good vibes." 
A DJ was there, but “the music was not excessive,” she said, adding that partygoers could hear music coming from other Saint-Jean parties nearby over their own.
"I don’t know if I’m too sensitive," she said, "but I really thought that it was because we were Black and we were gathered together.”
“It was really disheartening. It killed the party,” she added. “After the police left, everybody left. The DJ turned off his music and packed up his stuff.”
Montreal police confirmed officers “went to an establishment on Saint-Jacques St.” in a statement to CTV.
"After having made the organizer of the event aware of the noise in the parking lot of the establishment, the officers left the premises without issuing any statement of offence," read the statement.
Among those responding officers were members of the ÉCLIPSE unit, which specializes in fighting violent crime. Montreal’s police department says they were there as part of an over-arching strategy to increase "the population’s sense of security."
"As part of the CENTAURE strategy, police officers from the ÉCLIPSE unit, accompanied by partners from the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), make sporadic visits to various bars and restaurants in the city," read the statement.

"The ECLIPSE unit provides support to the units, collects information and intelligence, and increases police visibility and the population's sense of security."
But this intervention didn’t achieve that goal, according to Alain Babineau, spokesperson and coordinator on issues of racial profiling and public safety for anti-racism group The Red Coalition.
"The way they went about it is totally counter-productive to any form of community policing,” he said. “(It’s) counter-productive any type of community relations that you’re trying to establish."
Babineau called the intervention an example of “over-policing.”
"'Over-policing' is simply an iteration of racial profiling, where a particular community is over-policed with this belief that they could be involved in criminality."
Raeburn-Baines told us they have asked police to please not repeat the incident when their event, sponsored by Grenada Tourism and the City of Montreal, unfolds July 8-10. On Thursday afternoon, she said they hadn’t yet received a reply. 





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