Coalition calls on SPVM to collect race-based data for police stops

Snowdon councillor Marvin Rotrand and members of the coalition calling for a moratorium on unfounded police street checks at Thursday’s press conference downtown.

A coalition led by Snowdon councillor Marvin Rotrand which has called for a moratorium on routine random police street checks has now called on the Montreal police to collect race-based data for police and traffic stops.

The coalition also increased its numbers with the addition of the Native Women’s Shelter. Other members include the Black Coalition of Quebec, the National Council of Muslims, CRARR, the Jamaica Association of Montreal, Montreal En Action, the Association des juristes progressistes, the Filipino Association of Montreal and Suburbs, Simone de Beauvoir Institute, and the Coloured Women’s Club.

The Montreal council recently unanimously passed a motion co-sponsored by Rotrand calling on the Montreal police to halt routine random police checks and on the Quebec government to pass a law prohibiting such checks.

The motion and demands were sparked by a recent report identifying systemic discrimination by Montreal police, and which said visible minorities, such as young Arabs, members of the black community and indigenous women, are much more likely to be stopped by police than whites. More specifically, indigenous women were stopped in 11 times more often than anyone else. The SPVM is expected to respond to the report in March, with new measures.

At a press conference Thursday, the coalition called for additional measures to combat what it sees as “on-going racial profiling.

Native Women’s Shelter coordinator Jessica Quijano told the press conference that “Indigenous women in Montreal indicate that street checks have not abated in Montreal” since Rotrand’s motion was passed Nov. 18.

“Indigenous presence is growing in Montreal,” she added. “We must question if the SPVM is still effectively ignoring the unanimously adopted city council motion calling for street checks to be halted except in exceptional situations.”

Coalition members also said the Toronto Police Services Board “recently approved a new policy around the mandated collection of race-based data. Toronto Mayor John Tory called this decision by the Police Service Board a ‘landmark policy and a huge step forward.’”

“There is no reason why a city like Montreal, which is as multiracial as Toronto, cannot do the same,” said Alain Babineau, CRARR’s advisor on racial profiling and security. “We have to stop delaying race-based data collection as another way to hide or deny terrible racial disparities in street checks and traffic stops. Two city council committees recommended this back in 2017.”

Montreal North Borough Councillor Renee Chantal Belinga said the SPVM’s admission of systemic bias, “while useful, does not guarantee change.

“We will need community mobilization and new tools such as a mandatory race-based data collection policy to provide clear indisputable evidence that will help decision makers in putting new policies in place,” she added.

Rotrand sent a letter on behalf of the coalition to the city administration “requesting it endorse a race-based data collection policy.”

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