Former city councilor now living in the Lanaudière region claims she was racially profiled
By Contact Staff
“I’ve been around white people all my life and I don’t go screaming racism for every little incident. But I know when I’m being racially profiled,” so declares Sonya Biddle, a former city councilor who is crying foul after she was followed and intimidated while trying to shop at an IGA supermarket in St. Felix de Valois, in the Lanaudière region about an hour or so northeast of Montreal.
Biddle, who represented the Notre Dame de Grace district in City Hall between 1998 and 2001, said she and her husband Allan Patrick, a former City official were shopping at the supermarket on the afternoon of Thursday, March 10, when they noticed that they were being followed.
“So when we were told that it had nothing to do with me being Black, I know it was BS,” she says. “There we have this big tall guy following us wherever we went in the store and making no effort to hide the fact that he was following us.”
Patrick says it was clear what was happening.
“My wife is probably the only Black woman in the region, so what does it say to have a big tall giant of a man walking behind her in a store.”
He says. “It’s obvious that she was being profiled.”
When Biddle and Patrick confronted the man who was trailing them, he said he was ordered to do so by his boss.
To the surprise of the couple, the boss Marco Rainville, store manager, turned out to be the person who himself was also trailing them while they shopped a few days earlier.
Patrick says Rainville was immediately confrontational when they approached him for an explanation.
“No apology, no excuse, he simply kept repeating: ‘I have the right to walk anywhere in this store I want. It’s my store.’”
Patrick accused Rainville of racial profiling. He denied it.
Patrick then asked if he suspected them of being thieves. He said: ‘No.’
He then asked why are they being followed… “I have the right to walk anywhere…etc.”
CJAD Radio AM 800 was able to connect with store-owner Ginette Rainville who said it was not racial profiling and that they simply have measures to prevent shoplifting.
Biddle says she was so overwhelmed by the emotionally charged event that she couldn’t stop screaming “racists…” at the top of her voice in the store.
“Racial profiling is insidious. It is a demeaning and demoralizing attack on who you are as a human being, based on the colour of your skin. It is emotional bullying, pure and simple,” she says.
Patrick too was traumatized. He added:
“To see the person that you love hurt, embarrassed, demoralized and treated like a criminal in public because of the colour of her skin is something that I never want to have to live through again.”
They are planning to lodge a complaint to the Quebec Human Rights Commission.