Montreal’s police chief said Friday the department would release a new policy to combat racial profiling next month, five months later than initially planned.
Sylvain Caron said the new policy would be unveiled on July 8.
“I feel Montrealers are at a crossroads and we’re part of that change,” he said.
Caron said the policy would take at least a few months to be fully implemented.
The policy follows a study carried out for the Montreal police department and made public in October that showed a “systemic bias,” against Black people and people of Arab descent, who were four to five times more likely to be arrested than white people, a rate that increases to 11 times among Aboriginal women.
Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations Executive Director Fo Niemi said the plan is an indication that police are waking up to the dangers of racial profiling.
“People have been feeling impatient and concerned,” he said. “This is the very first time in months that I’ve seen Mr. Caron in public saying anything about police matters.
HOPING FOR A PEACEFUL PROTEST
Caron also said he hopes a daytime protest scheduled for Sunday will end more peacefully than the one held last Sunday.
He said that police cannot pre-emptively arrest people who show up at a demonstration to cause trouble, as a small group of looters did following the peaceful protest against police brutality and racial profiling last weekend.
People have a guaranteed right to peaceful protest, Caron said.
The chief also invited organizers to come and meet him before the event to discuss any security issues.
Caron would not say if he would take a knee in solidarity with protesters if he is asked to do so, and said that the choice to do so among police offers at the protest rests with individual officers.
Police kneeling on the ground to support those speaking out against police violence against Black and racialized people in the United States has happened during protests that have continued to rock the country since the death of George Floyd, killed in Minneapolis by a policeman who knelt on his throat for more than eight minutes, suffocating him to death.
The officer, Derek Chauvin, is now facing charges of second-degree murder and three colleagues who were on the scene and did not intervene are also facing criminal charges of aiding and abetting.