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Police detention criticized as racial profiling

  • By Joel Goldenberg The Suburban

The SPVM has declared an investigation closed regarding a filmed incident in a mall parking lot involving an SPVM officer temporarily detaining a Black man on suspicion of vehicle theft, cuffing him and then having to wait for a key to uncuff the man.
But the incident is being criticized as a possible example of racial profiling. The video shows the Black man angrily saying he was mistreated, and asking if he was detained because he is Black. The officers deny this is the case.
"Are you injured, you're not injured," an officer says in the video.
"It hurts me!" the detained man says. "Uncuff me this second! This shows a lack of respect! Uncuff me, I'm in pain!
The SPVM posted on Twitter Friday that it "became aware of a video posted on social media in connection with an intervention by Montreal police officers. Immediately, we made checks in order to know the detailed circumstances surrounding the event
The tweet adds that "yesterday afternoon, two expert motor vehicle theft investigators noticed a Honda CRV SUV parked in a mall parking lot. The unoccupied vehicle showed typical and obvious attempted theft marks on one of the locks (damage).
"The police therefore began investigating to determine if it was a stolen car. Before they could finish their checks, a citizen walked up to it to take possession of it. It was at this time that he was temporarily detained for investigation by the two police officers. The citizen was released unconditionally and without charge once the checks were completed. The investigation is over."
But anti-racial profiling activists are not buying that explanation.
Joel DeBellefeuille of the Red Coalition, the federal-registered lobby group that works to end systemic discrimination and racism across the country, posted a six-minute video of the incident, and tweeted, "time and time again, acts of racial profiling like this continue to occur in Quebec. This man was handcuffed for 'suspected car theft' and the SPVM officers told him they didn't have the key after finding out the car was his. Disgusting."
Alain Babineau, previously of the Center for Research Action on Race Relations and now director of the Red Coalition, posted "in light of the deplorable incident involving the unlawful arrest of a black man by the SPVM, which was seen by tens of thousands of people, I invite a reflection on the fundamental role of the police. "
Babineau linked to the Ottawa police service's article on Sir Robert Peel's Principles of Law Enforcement 1829. Peel is "said to be the father of modern democratic policing."
Those principles include:
• "The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police actions."
• "Police must secure the willing cooperation of the public in voluntary observance of the law to be able to secure and maintain the respect of the public."
• "The degree of cooperation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force."
• "Police seek and preserve public favour not by catering to the public opinion but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.
• "Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.
Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary.
• "The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it."

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