Dawson students’ views on alleged racial profiling and abusive treatment by STM inspectors
by Christopher Sammons
The STM has been credited with racism and abuse more than ever since the Atwater metro incident that occurred in Nov. 2009, involving the arrest of Samantha Hyman-Roberts, a black youth who did not keep her ticket after purchase.
The STM constables are all trained in the police force, which allows them to arrest and question whoever they want. Despite the fact that the STM’s official spokesperson, Marianne Rouette, said several times that “the inspectors do not single out people on racial bias and apply force if only necessary and that the STM does not tolerate racial profiling,” many black youths still feel that it is because of their skin colour that they are the prime targets when it comes to STM inspections.
“I personally know the girl involved because she is my cousin,” African Legacy President Terry Joseph said. “She was the only one who didn’t have her OPUS card and they arrested her and took her into questioning for not keeping her ticket. I think they over-exaggerated.”
“Personally nothing happened to me but it’s just a feeling that they seem nicer to everyone else. When it comes down to immigrants or black people, they seem more nasty, harsh and bitter,” fourth semester Social Science student Debra Rwigema added.
Others think the STM aren’t targeting people based on their race but rather their age and status.
“I find that most of the people who get in trouble with the STM are either students or young,” fifth semester Social Science student Chris Merlo said. They think we’re more likely to cause trouble than adults. I’ve been stopped and asked for my OPUS card numerous times when I’m at the metro with my friends,” fifth semester Social Science student Chris Merlo said.
“I think it’s more of a target on young people but if you have to specify a race, I think it’s more Black Canadian youths who hang out in groups because I think the STM thinks they’re up to something… and she was in a group,” Joseph said.
Hyman-Roberts and her two friends are seeking a total of $50,000 in damages from the transit agency and the two inspectors. This isn’t the first time the STM would be brought to court under these issues.
A similar incident happened not too long ago when STM officers arrested two black men at the Georges-Vanier metro for similar reasons to the Atwater incident. The two men took the case to court under the label of “racist” and filed for $30 000 dollars in damages.
“I really hope they stop with all this crap. Just because someone is of a different race does not mean they are freaking criminals! The STM needs to train their staff better so incidents like these don’t happen again,” third semester Commerce student Sasha Davis said.