Montreal police may be facing Human Rights Tribunal loan sharks after missing the deadline to pay court-ordered racial profiling charges to Farid Charles.
When I was eight years old, I had to dish out $50 of my Hanukkah money for a Blockbuster Video late fee, and, in the process, I learned a valuable lesson: ignoring a fine won’t make it go away.
The Montreal Police are about to learn the same.
Six days ago, on June 13, the SPVM (Service de police de la Ville de Montreal) missed its due date to pay $33,000 in damages to LaSalle high school teacher Farid Charles, as ordered by the Quebec Human Rights Commission. The fine was issued to penalize the police for an incident that occurred in 2010 where two SPVM cops pulled Mr. Charles out of the front passenger seat of his friend’s car in a shopping mall parking lot with no apparent reasonable cause. The officers slammed Mr. Charles into the pavement, detained him in their squad car for forty minutes, and gave him a $140 ticket for “wandering without being able to justify his presence”.
Farid Charles also happens to be black, but that couldn’t be the reason for the police’s actions, right? There must have been some perfectly equitable explanation for what happened. Maybe the car that Charles was sitting in had an anti-tuition-hike bumper sticker on the back of it, or maybe Farid was wearing a ‘scary’ and ‘threatening’ item of clothing like a hoodie (see: Trayvon Martin).
Then again, maybe it was racial profiling. Unfortunately, this is a really hard thing to prove. So, despite a lack of reasonable cause for targeting Farid Charles, a police ethics commission investigating the case wouldn’t admit that the cops were racial profiling. They did rule that the officers used excessive force, but this ruling has no impact whatsoever on increasing the police force’s equity accountability. Farid Charles wasn’t satisfied, so he took the case over to the Human Rights Commission where the proper racial-profiling verdict was ruled. The SPVM was ordered to pay him $33,000 in damages, partly from the police force’s budget, and partly from the guilty cops’ pockets.
Today, six days after the compensation-due date, our high school-teaching victim hasn’t seen a dime. This failure to comply with the Commission’s demands could result in the case being referred to the Human Rights Tribunal, an agency with more power to institute their rulings against unrepentant offenders. According to Farid Charles, the SPVM hasn’t even apologized. It would appear that Montreal’s ‘colour blind’ police force, is also deaf to fines, and, as of press time, mute for comment.