Montreal Officers Claim They Avoid Stopping Minorities over Fears of Being Vilified as Racists

A woman holds a "I Can't Breathe" sign as Montreal Police and protesters face off during a march against police brutality and racism in Montreal, Canada, on June 7 2020. - On May 25, 2020, Floyd, a 46-year-old black man suspected of passing a counterfeit $20 bill, died in Minneapolis …

Several police officers in the Canadian city of Montreal say they increasingly avoid intervening in situations that involve minorities in case they are filmed and vilified as racists on social media.

The officers, some of whom are minorities, all spoke under condition of anonymity and claim they would rather look the other way than have to intervene in a situation involving a “racialised” member of the public, stating that none of the officers wants to risk their career.

“It is the case that if one or two cameras are filming, that only one video is shown, and it is no longer the same intervention at all. Your name is in the media. Everybody’s talking about you,” one of the officers, an ethnic minority himself, told Canadian French-language broadcaster Radio Canada.

“I prefer to receive my salary until I retire, without having a suspension, and to have peace,” another officer told the broadcaster.

Annie Gendron, a researcher at the Quebec National Police School, stated that the phenomenon of de-policing, a term used to describe police disengagement in certain situations to avoid media criticism or professional scrutiny, has surged since the death of American George Floyd last year.

Gendron has been tasked with conducting a study on police disengagement in Quebec, as so far, data on the phenomena has only come from the United States.

One of the officers who spoke to Radio Canada blamed selective reporting in the media, saying media shows one side, the most shocking and sensational, and loops such footage on television.

“I’d rather drive left right now if something is happening on the right. I will tell you quite frankly, I don’t stop racialised people. Because I don’t want to put myself at risk anymore,” the officer said.

The comments from the officers come after the director of the Montreal Police (SPVM) Sylvain Caron claimed to recognise “systemic racism” among the police force in June of last year, following a report that stated black, Arab, and aboriginal youths were five times more likely to be arrested than white residents.

Criminologist Maria Mourani stated that organised street gangs are likely to benefit from the disengagement of police and warned that dangerous areas of Montreal could become even worse.

The Radio Canada report comes nearly a year after a similar report from the French city of La Rochelle, which claimed that police in the city refused to arrest a young man over fears that they would be labelled racists and that the arrest could spark urban violence.

That same month, plainclothes members of the French riot police, the CRS, were attacked in a bar in Le Mans. But because one of the individuals assaulting them was from a minority background, the officers refused to defend themselves.

“I did not want to hit her because it was a woman, black moreover. With the particular context of the moment, I especially didn’t want us to talk about police violence,” one of the officers said at the time.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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