A Black Laval resident said he can't stop thinking about an encounter he had with police the same day George Floyd died. Photo by Diego Fabian Parra Pabon (Pixabay)
An unsettling video that shows police officers in Quebec yanking a Black man out of a vehicle by his hair and then striking him on the head has gone viral.It’s yet another concerning instance of recent police use of force in Canada.On Facebook, the encounter, which took place in Laval and within an hour of the killing by police of George Floyd on May 25, is split into two separate, minute-long videos, both in French. In the first, an officer leans over the passenger side window to confront the Black man, who is in his 20s.
The officer asks the passenger to exit the vehicle, so the passenger asks, “Why?”“For obstruction and a police investigation,” the officer says.A short back-and-forth ensues, with the passenger visibly perplexed. The officer refuses to offer details and then forcefully grabs the man’s dreadlocks and pulls him out of the car.The second video shows two police officers standing over the man—who is now contorted, face down on the ground—as they detain him, with the first officer hitting the man on the head at one point.Screams can be heard during the video, first reported by CBC News.Laval police did not respond to VICE requests for comment by the time of publication. But the force told CBC it does not have a “racial-profiling problem.”Police spokesperson Sgt. Geneviève Major said the police stopped the car for erratic driving and asked the man to exit the vehicle because they suspected he had drugs inside.Earlier this week, Quebec premier Francois Legault faced backlash for saying aid the province doesn’t have a problem with systemic racism either.“I don't see a system, an organized system, in the police community or anywhere,” Legault said, attributing racism to a small group of people.The man in the video, Samuel, told CBC he can’t stop thinking about the encounter."All I wanted to know is, why did I have to come out of the car,” he said. “What's going to happen if I get out of the car? What are they going to do to me? Am I going to put my hands behind my back, get handcuffed and get killed or something?"
Several studies in the U.S. and Canada show Black (and Indigenous) people are more likely to be stopped by police for drug-related reasons than white people.Before cannabis was legalized, for example, Black people were five times more likely than white people to get arrested in Halifax for possession than white people. In Regina, Indigenous peoples were nearly nine times more likely to get arrested for carrying weed than white people.It’s one of several recent incidents in Canada that have thrown policing in the country into question.On Wednesday, police in Edmundston killed Chantel Moore, a 26-year-old Indigenous woman, during a wellness check. The officer, who is yet to be named, allegedly shot at Moore five times. Indigenous leaders are now calling for an investigation into the circumstances of her death.A Nunavut RCMP officer is also under investigation after he was caught on video ramming a car door into an Inuk man before making an arrest with the help of other officers.In Toronto, mass protests were held in response to the tragic death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a Black woman who died after police were called in to perform a wellness check. The woman fell off her balcony—24 stories above ground—while police were in her apartment. The circumstances of her death are disputed.Follow Anya Zoledziowski on Twitter.