A Gatineau man is alleging he was beaten by RCMP officers and racially profiled by the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) at the Edmonton International Airport in April.
Chrislain Eric Kenfack has filed a human rights complaint against the RCMP and CATSA alleging he was mistreated by officials at the airport following a secondary inspection while he was returning to Ottawa.
A news conference was held Thursday with Kenfack and the Red Coalition, a human rights group advocating for his case.
Kenfack said the incident initially began when he set off an alarm while going through security and was subjected to a “degrading” search in public.
“It was at this time, Mr. Kenfack also noticed that two other passengers travelling through the security gates were setting off the alarms as well but not stopped or searched like himself, said Joel DeBellefeuille, executive director of the Red Coalition at the news conference.
“The only difference was that these other people were white.”
Kenfack says he was taken into a private screening room and searched. The additional search caused delays and caused him to miss his flight. He then went to submit a complaint to a CATSA supervisor.
He claims the supervisor quickly shot that down, accusing Kenfack of playing ‘the race card’ and went on to say that CATSA could not be a racist organization because they hire black employees.
CATSA strongly refuted the claim of racial profiling, adding that all proper procedures were followed by screening officers.
“At any time that an alarm is triggered at the walk through metal detector, passengers are required to undergo further screening, which includes a physical search,” a statement by CATSA to CTV News said.
“In this case, all procedures were followed by a screening officer in training and observed by their supervisor. A review of CCTV footage shows that no other passengers triggered an alarm during the time in question and CATSA strongly refutes any claim of racial profiling.”
The CATSA supervisor then called police and three officers arrived on scene.
“They went on to racially berate and insult him repeatedly,” DeBellefeuille said.
Kenfack claims the officers yelled and insulted him.
“I know people of your type, all you can do is make noise, but you can’t do anything,” he claims officers said.
“I am sure that in your shit country, police officers are more violent than that,” they added.
All of this, Kenfack says, occurred in front of his two children, aged two and ten-years-old.
“My immediate concern was my two-year-old crying,” Kenfack said.
In a statement to CTV News, the RCMP claims they asked Kanfack to leave the secure area of the airport but refused. They also claim Kenfack began to yell at officers when they arrived.
“Upon arrival, RCMP spoke to a male identified as Chrislain Kenfack who was upset after missing his flight and refused to leave until he was given flights and accommodations,” the statement read.
“After lengthy attempts by RCMP and airport employees to calm Mr. Kenfack down and to leave the secure area, Mr. Kenfack was warned that should he not leave he would be arrested.”
“At this time Mr. Kenfack began yelling ‘arrest me’ and ‘just shoot me.’ Mr. Kenfack was placed under arrest for Mischief and Cause a disturbance. After a struggle between Kenfack and police, he was placed in handcuffs and removed from the secured area.
The altercation, Kenfack says, escalated to the point where officers forcibly brought him to the ground, resulting in injuries and leaving him unable to stand.
He was placed in a wheelchair and brought to the airport police station.
Kenfack subsequently had to hire a taxi to be taken to the hospital where he was examined and later released. He was then charged with mischief and causing a disturbance.
The charges against were dropped on Sept. 28, according to the RCMP.
Kenfack, who teaches anti-racism workshops, is filing complaints to the RCMP and the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
The Red Coalition will now be accompanying Kenfack in filing complaints to the RCMP external review committee and to the Canadian Human Rights Commission against the RCMP and CATSA.