Innocent man arrested without motive?

CARLEEN LONEY/The Concordian @shloneys

Calling the police into question and their ability to do their job right

A man named Brice Dossa was handcuffed by Montreal police on Thursday, Nov. 3 in the parking lot of Montreal’s Central Market. Police suspected him of stealing a vehicle which was later proven to be his own. The plainclothes Detectives who specialise in car thefts, however, were unable to release Dossa immediately because they had misplaced the keys to their handcuffs and needed backup officers at the scene to release Dossa.

In a video that has since gone viral, Dossa is seen asking officers if he was arrested because he’s Black. While the two officers deny that this unjustified arrest has anything to do with race, many on social media are concerned that this is just another case of racial profiling.

If not, why was the man suspected of car theft and arrested for it by police, prior to the officers verifying who the vehicle belonged to?

In the questionable sequence of events which led up to Dossa’s wrongful arrest, the unfortunate historical trend in which the Black community is faced with unwarranted and unjust policing has, yet again, resurfaced in the headlines.

The video segment of the arrest is truly abhorrent. It calls into question these cops’ ability to perform their duties. 

One major inconsistency in the officers’ discretion was that the car theft under investigation on Nov. 3 involved a vehicle which was reported to have visible signs of damage. However, CBC independently confirmed that Dossa’s car showed no traces of such damage. Yet, when Dossa arrived at the scene where the police were still examining his vehicle for evidence, they promptly arrested him.

Dossa claims he is left traumatized by the experience, which could easily have been avoided with proper due diligence from the police. This puts into question whether law enforcement can ensure equal treatment for all. 

Ironically, this event comes shortly after the Quebec Superior Court ruled in a racial profiling case that police could no longer pull over drivers without a valid reason, as it constitutes a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom. Officers who are not dutifully impartial in service to the law might finally incur sanctions when these newly-established regulations become viable six months from now.

Meanwhile, instances of police brutality and racial profiling frequently continue to make headlines, yet our premier continues to deny the existence of systemic racism and bias

As he claimed in 2020, when addressing protests in response to George Floyd’s murder, “I think that there is some discrimination in Quebec, but there’s no systemic discrimination.” More recently, during the last electoral campaign, Legault again reiterated his stance that systemic racism does not exist. 

It is appalling that the government or law enforcement institutions in this province refuse to acknowledge the pernicious consequences of systemic racism. The foundation for such beliefs — and the inaction that follows — normalizes and legitimizes the abuse of power by the state in ways that undermine democracy, justice and equality for all citizens.

Following Dossa’s wrongful arrest, new policies need to not only be incorporated within the practices of law enforcement, but also should be made effectively operational.  Let’s hope that the recent decision ruled by the Quebec Superior Court will yield change in the years to come, so that everyone is guaranteed equal freedom and safety.

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