Kirkland resident says he was pulled over in NDG for being Black
- By Dan Laxer The Suburban, July 10, 2023
June 22nd, SPVM Chief Fady Dagher rejected calls to end random street checks. The very next night, Cyrus Senior, a Kirkland resident, who is Black, was pulled over on his way home from work.
Senior, 27, is a software engineer who works as a DJ on side. Around 2:30 a.m., after DJing a graduation party for a friend’s daughter, thinking “what’s the worst that can happen,” Senior was driving through NDG, doing everything a driver is supposed to – obeying the speed limit, signaling, stopping at red lights and stop signs. And, as he told a news conference last week, he had not been drinking.
The news conference was held by The Red Coalition, the anti-racism and anti-racial profiling organization.
Senior said he noticed the police cruiser, but thought nothing of it. “I knew I wasn’t doing anything wrong.” He was driving his mother’s car, the same car he borrows to get to work everyday.
The traffic light he’d been waiting at, with the police car behind him, turned green. Senior made his turn, and was pulled over.
“I’ve been taught to not question too much. I’ve been taught by my parents to just do what they say, because me getting aggressive will do nothing but harm me.”
The officer explained that the reason he pulled Senior over is because it was “a very unusual time to be driving”. Senior later mused “I didn’t know there was a curfew to driving in Montreal.” Still, he didn’t question it. The officer then said the other reason he pulled Senior over is because the car he was driving is registered to a woman. This was not the first time this had come up.
“Yes,” Senior responded, “My mother. Do you want me to call her?” The officer said no, but then told Senior that the car’s registration was expired. It was not, but Senior had inadvertently given him the wrong copy.
Once the incident was over, Senior began to think of the reality of what had just occurred, the real reason he was pulled over.
Senior’s mother, Gillian, also addressed reporters, saying ““I know I am speaking on behalf of all Black mothers out there.” She said, “It’s the worst feeling in world to know that you have to be nervous every time your 27-year-old son leaves the house after dark.”
Alain Babineau of The Red Coalition highlighted the documented racism within the police force, and how it affects the street checks that they would like to see stopped. “The majority of SPVM officers, Babineau said, quoting an independent report by researchers from several Quebec universities, “see absolutely no need to change anything about their practices.”
“I don’t know what’s needed to be changed,” Senior said. “But I shouldn’t be scared to drive past a police car.”
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