McGill student Jackie Jones will be heard at the Quebec Superior Court on November 25, after she filed a racial profiling complaint to the Quebec Human Rights Commission (QHRC) in early July, with the help of the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR). Jones, a black woman, was accosted and arrested by five security guards at the Peel metro station in late March of this year.
At the time of arrest, Jones was standing at the top of the stairs of the downtown station with a Hispanic male friend. They were asked by two Société de transport de Montréal (STM) security guards to step aside in French. One of the guards became angry when Jones requested they repeat their request in English.
“They said ‘move now!’ and it was a bit aggressive. I listened and was going to move on, but I told them that there is no need for the aggression. At this point they asked for my ID and were going to give me a ticket,” Jones said. “When I started to question them about why I was receiving a ticket, one of the guards grabbed my arm and twisted it to my back. They called for three more male security guards, who slammed me onto the ground and handcuffed me,” she added.
After a brief discussion with the police who later arrived, and the discovery that Jones was a McGill student, she was released. But Jones felt that she was a victim of racial profiling and asked for help from the CRARR.
According to Adrienne Gibson, a civil rights advocate at CRARR – a Montreal-based non-profit public interest organization – this is not an individual incident, but is among many other cases that are related to racial profiling.
“We have a number of cases where the police [or metro security guards] target members of the black community, particularly young men and women, but not exclusively. These kinds of incidences happen and it is a systemic problem. It is a larger problem and has serious consequences for communities,” Gibson said.
In August, Jones received court papers citing two criminal charges for obstructing the work of civil servants in relation to the incident and was fined $100.
Jones advised students who have faced similar situations to share their experiences so that the systemic problem can be resolved.
“If there’s anybody who has ever been assaulted in this type of way without any reasoning, if they can share their stories with CRARR, then we can try to attack this situation from a citizen standpoint…and try to see what the source of the problem is,” Jones said.
Gibson felt that a solution would not be possible unless other victims also come forward.
“We think that the only way to stop this is to get people to come forward and to talk about what’s happening so that we can start coming up with some solutions,” Gibson said.