Natacha Elie, a Haitian-Quebecois woman, is recounting the events of Sept. 14, 2020, when she was arrested in the Parc-Extension district. And she’s filing a formal complaint with help from the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR).
The CRARR says Elie, 19, was on her way home after she took a walk with a friend. She had her longboard under her arm.
When she got to the corner of Beaumont and boulevard de l’Acadie, a police cruiser with lights flashing approached her. One of the officers shouted at her to drop her longboard while a second was holding what she believed was a gun.
Elie was terrified. She dropped her board and raised her hands and asked the police what was going on.
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She was handcuffed and the officers told her she was suspected of carrying a weapon. They were in the area responding to a call about a woman matching her description carrying a weapon, but the CRARR says they only told Elie that after she was handcuffed and searched.
Elie had no weapons on her. Police then released her and left, leaving her alone and traumatized in the street.
The CRARR says Elie called her friend that she had just seen earlier that evening.
That friend, who is of Indonesian descent with white skin, said she too was approached by police but had a very different experience–the police questioned and searched her but she wasn’t arrested and the SPVM escorted her home afterward.
Elie wanted to file a complaint, but the humiliation she felt from the arrest left her discouraged. However, the CRARR says she has changed her mind following the arrest of Mamadi Fara III Camara in late January.
“I was waiting for formal apologies and explanations that never came. If this happened to me, it could happen to other young Black people, men and women, too. This is why I decided to take action to defend my rights,” she said in a CRARR release.
The CRARR is filing complaints on her behalf with the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse and to the Police Ethics Commissioner.
The SPVM says it cannot comment on specific cases.
“A person who feels they were wronged during a police intervention can file a complaint against the officer(s) involved with the SPVM or with an independent organization like the Commissaire à la déontologie policière or the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse (CDPDJ),” it said in a statement.