Nearly three in four people arrested by the Quietude squad of the Montreal Police Department are black, according to data obtained and analyzed by a professor at Concordia University, who concludes that this team is “massively” profiling people. Afro-descendant.
Between December 2019 and April 2020, the Quietude squad, supposed to fight the proliferation of illegal firearms, arrested 31 people. Almost 75% of them are black. In Montreal, the black population accounts for only 7% of the population. After calculations, a black Montrealer is 42 times more likely to be arrested by this team than a white.
“It’s exaggerated and disproportionate, even for the SPVM,” comments Ted Rutland, professor in the department of geography, urban planning and the environment at Concordia University. It was the latter who analyzed the data obtained under the Access to Information Act. Anyone who works regularly on the role of the police in Montreal expected to see a certain trend in it, but not of this magnitude.
Firearms: few charges
Another observation by Professor Rutland: 70% of the charges brought by the Quietude Squad are not related to firearms. He also notes that less than 30% of blacks arrested have been charged with gun-related crimes.
“We have given the SPVM plenty of resources to solve the firearms problem, and we see that they have used the resources to target the people they like to target” -Ted Rutland, professor in the geography department, d ‘urban planning and environment at Concordia University
The Quiétude squad was deployed in December 2019, two months after the publication of a report showing that blacks and Aboriginals were four times more likely than whites to be arrested by the SPVM.
This corresponds to a “historical pattern”, argues Mr. Rutland.
“The SPVM has a history of responding to criticism for its racism by launching new operations or squads that target a kind of crime that can easily be linked to people of color, especially black,” he explains.
The professor calls for the elimination of this team “which massively targets blacks” in order to fight against racial profiling.
Quiet Squad presence felt
It is in the northeast of Montreal that the Quiétude squad is most active, especially in Montreal-North, where more than a third of the team’s arrests have been made.
Ted Rutland collected testimonies from young people arrested in Montreal-North. Two of them say they were “harassed” by the police before being searched at their home and arrested for drug possession.
Roberson Berlus is a street worker for the organization Café-jeunesse multiculturel. He says the squad’s arrival did not go unnoticed in the neighborhood, for the wrong reasons.
“We felt a strong oppression. There was inadequate police behavior and I had to go to a more accessible sergeant to correct things a bit. They came in and they were really aggressive and were targeting people. ” -Roberson Berlus, street worker
Mr. Berlus would like more resources to be invested to hire more street workers. They are only three in the district, whereas it would take ten, according to him.
“What a lot of groups are asking for are investments in social programs, in mental health,” says Rutland. We need activities for young people, so that they can finish their studies. We need street workers to resolve conflicts before it turns into violence. ”
The SPVM had not reacted to the study when it was posted online.