Black man says racial profiling led to wrongful arrest
A young black Montreal man has filed a complaint with the Quebec Police Ethics Committee after being arrested for a crime he didn't commit.
Nineteen-year-old student Mark Wiles Simpson was minding his own business and talking to his cousin in a park near the McDonald's in St. Laurent where he was going to start his shift when police jumped him, wrestled him to the ground, punching and choking him. Four officers were involved in the October 3 incident.
"I said what's going on, I didn't do anything. They weren't telling me, they weren't answering me, they weren't telling me why I was being arrested," Simpson told a news conference.
Turns out, they thought he was a suspect in the hold up of a nearby SAQ. But he was the wrong man, and police released him with no apology and charged him with obstruction of justice.
His mother Dionne Wiles can't believe it.
"Montreal police made him a criminal. His crime is being black and male," Wiles said tearfully.
One of Simpson's friends took a video of the incident which shows four officers on top of Simpson who is lying on the ground, shouting and not resisting. One officer who kept Simpson's friends and other witnesses at bay is heard saying, "He did something wrong, now he has to pay the police."
Simpson said the whole experience made him feel badly, humiliated and distrustful of police."
Fo Niemi, executive director of the anti-racism lobby group CRARR (Centre for Research Action on Race Relations), said this was only one example of a common occurrence.
"This is yet another case of "Any Negro Will Do," where police act on a vague race-based suspect description and arrests someone as if all black men look alike," Niemi said.
"We hear this kind of story happen very often: a vague suspect description and an innocent black person, usually a black male, is being jumped on and wrestled to the ground and they used force against him and in this case unfortunately, he ends up with a criminal charge which is beyond our comprehension."
The family wants an apology from the mayor and the police chief and also plans a civil rights complaint. Simpson said he decided to speak out publicly about his experience.
"I don't want them to do this again to any black male. I don't want it to happen, I want something to be done."
Photos: Shuyee Lee