Black woman says Montreal police ‘humiliated’ her, told to scrape off car tints with coin

A 62-year-old Black woman in Montreal says she was racially profiled by police when a traffic stop turned into “one of the most humiliating experiences” of her life.

Charlene Hunte, a grandmother and retired health-care worker who runs a local food bank, says police stopped her at 8 a.m. on April 30 in the city’s Little Burgundy neighbourhood.

She was on her way to serve her community from Union United Church, Quebec’s oldest Black church, where the food bank operates just a couple of blocks from where the incident took place.

Hunte says Montreal police pulled her over because the tints on her vehicle windows were darker than allowed under the law. They told her they couldn’t see her through her side windows. She claims she’s had those tints on her car for five years without any issue.

“I said, ‘OK, fine. I have to go. I have to open up the food bank for the people. Give me a 24-hour citation and I will get it done tomorrow,’” Hunte told Media on Tuesday.

After insisting she would remove her tints the very next day, a male officer told her to she had to do it on the spot by scraping off the tints by hand using a quarter.

“I was pissed off,” she said. “He said, ‘If you don’t take it off, I’m towing your car.’”

According to her, the officer then handed her a switchblade pocketknife and demanded she do it there at the side of the road at the intersection.

“I took the blade. He said, ‘Start scraping.’ So I went to scrape.”

After struggling to get it done, she returned the knife to the officer who continued doing it himself.

A total of three police cruisers had converged around her car. She says she was eventually told she could remove the rest the following day and was let go without a ticket.

The director of Montreal’s Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR), Fo Niemi, called the conduct from police “a little draconian.”

A statement from Niemi says the 62-year-old woman was treated in a “paternalistic and patronizing manner” by the one police officer in particular who had ordered her to remove the tint with a 25 cent coin and threatened to tow her vehicle.

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