Black Montreal Residents Claim Racial Profiling on Transit

Irwin Block, Montreal Gazette, February 21, 2010

Two groups of black residents of southwest Montreal are filing complaints with the Quebec Human Rights Commission, saying they were racially profiled and abused by transportation officials.

In both cases, the residents claim they were mistreated in November after failing to show proof they had bought transit tickets.

Samantha Hyman-Roberts said she and two friends were returning home from work when they were singled out by inspectors.

Her friends had their passes, but Hyman-Roberts said she’d discarded her ticket.

The inspectors then told her it was “illegal” to use transit without a pass, and ordered her to get off at the next stop.

“They put on their gloves, grabbed me and dragged me to the ground in the train. They then dragged me onto the (next) platform,” she said.

“They put their knees on my back and tried to put handcuffs on my wrists. I was screaming that I was in pain and they ignored me,” said Hyman-Roberts. “They picked me up, slammed me against the wall and threw me inside.”

She accused the officials of racial profiling, before they handed her a $214 ticket for not having proof of payment and $324 for obstruction.

Hyman-Roberts and her two friends are asking the commission for $50,000 in damages.

In the second case, Gallo Cham and his friend also claim they were targeted by inspectors because they are black, asking for $30,000 in damages.

Cham got a $214 fine for using transit without a ticket.

But Montreal Transit Commission official Marianne Rouette was quick to deny the allegations.

“To my knowledge they don’t single out people,” she said.

The two complaints will be filed Monday.

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