Black driver of Mercedes arrested in 'egregious' case of racial profiling, Montreal rights group says

Kenrick McRae says he was pulled over and handcuffed, then detained in the back of a squad car while a video recording that he made of the incident was erased. A Montreal civil rights group is calling the incident "one of the most egregious cases of racial profiling we've seen."

Kenrick McRae plans to file human rights complaint after incident in Montreal West

Kenrick McRae said he keeps a camcorder in his Mercedes because he's been 'stopped so many times' by the police and wants to protect himself. (Matt D'Amours/CBC)

A black man driving a Mercedes says he was pulled over and handcuffed, then detained in the back of a Montreal police squad car while a video recording of the incident was erased.

"They willfully, and wrongly, arrested me," Kenrick McRae told a news conference on Sunday alongside Fo Niemi, the executive director of the Center on Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR).

In a news release issued Sunday, Niemi called the incident "one of the most egregious cases of racial profiling we've seen."

The release goes on to detail what allegedly happened to the 45-year-old father of two, who works at Trudeau airport and has no criminal record. 

McRae said he was waiting for his female companion to withdraw money from an RBC branch on Westminster Avenue in Montreal West on March 3 when a police car stopped parallel to his car on the other side of the road.

I've been stopped so often as a black man driving a Mercedes, and getting a cam recorder is one way for me to protect myself from the police.- Kenrick McRae

​The squad car then made a U-turn and stopped directly behind him, and an officer asked for his licence and registration.

McRae said that, after checking his papers, the officer told him his lights above in his licence plate weren't working.

He got out of the car with a video camera to record that the lights were, in fact, fully functional. 

At that point, one officer asked him to hand over the recorder and, when McRae asked why, he was arrested for what the officer called "disturbance," he said.

McRae was then placed in the back of the police car while his camera was seized and the video erased, he said. Family videos were also deleted, he said.

He was released after the two arresting officers told him they did not find anything to charge him with, he said. The incident ended up involving a total of four police cars and up to eight officers, according to CRARR.

'Stopped so often as a black man driving a Mercedes'

McRae said he tried to bring up the issue with a supervisor at the scene, who ignored his complaint. It was only after he later called 911 and was able to speak to a different supervisor that he was able to file his complaint.

McRae said he keeps the camera in the car because he is stopped by police every month or two and wants to ensure any wrongdoing is documented.

Kenrick McRae, seen here alongside Fo Niemi of the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations, says he was "willfully and wrongly" arrested by police in Montreal West earlier this month. (Matt D'Amours/CBC)

"I've been stopped so often as a black man driving a Mercedes, and getting a cam recorder is one way for me to protect myself from the police," McRae said in the news release. 

"But never in my life did I imagine the police would arrest me for filing what I consider to be evidence of racial profiling, seize my cam recorder and erase my recordings."

Plans to file formal complaint

CRARR's executive director, Fo Niemi, said McRae was arrested for "no clear reason."

Niemi said CRARR plans to help McRae file a complaint with the Quebec Human Rights Commission and the police ethics commissioner.

Montreal police commented on the case Monday.

The police force has been dogged by accusations of racial discrimination for years.

A 2011 report by Quebec Human Rights Commission found that ethnic minorities in Quebec are subject to "police surveillance that is targeted and disproportionate."

Former chief Marc Parent acknowledged in 2014 that racial profiling was an ongoing issue within his department.

"We do have a racial profiling problem… It's not the majority, but we have to work on that every day," Parent told Daybreak at the time.