Senior alleges racial profiling after he was arrested following dispute at N.S. restaurant
HALIFAX -- A Nova Scotia senior alleges a weekend dispute over a video lottery terminal that resulted in him being handcuffed in the back of a police car is a textbook example of the kind of racism Black people face every day.
Mike Paris, 71, and his family are regulars at Crossroads Restaurant in Windsor, N.S.
It was a typical Sunday when Paris dropped by Crossroads to try his luck on a VLT machine.
With only a handful of machines in the lounge, his choices were limited.
Paris says he noticed a man and a woman were holding a VLT machine while they were having a meal.
While the lounge allows for machines to be held during bathroom or cigarette breaks, there is no policy about holding a machine during a meal, so Paris spoke up.
He says the argument quickly turned ugly.
“Him and I were having a confrontation, we were just arguing back and forth, and he said I spit on him,” recalls Paris. “He said, ‘I don’t have to take that, I’m going to call the cops’.”
Paris says he found the suggestion ridiculous and offensive since he was wearing a mask, but he told the man to go ahead and call the police, and sat down to play the VLT.
Police did show up and the officer told him he was being arrested for assault.
“This is crazy to me. I didn’t do anything, and I’m the one that’s getting arrested here,” says Paris.
Paris says he was handcuffed by police and placed in the back of the cruiser while police asked more questions inside the restaurant.
“When I arrived, they were chewing at each other,” says Crossroads manager Roland Schofield, who was called to the restaurant by staff as the situation escalated.
Schofield says he noticed that Mike was wearing a mask while the other man wasn’t. He says the whole situation was deeply unfortunate, but perhaps not surprising.
“The times that we’re in right now, stress levels are high and sometimes tempers get out of control,” says Schofield.
At this time, police will only say they responded to reports of an assault on Sunday, noting one man was arrested and released a short time later, and the file is now closed.
“I feel really embarrassed about the whole thing,” says Paris. “I was subject to harassment as far as I’m concerned, from the RCMP. They could have handled it much differently.”
Paris says the officer was cordial and polite, but the experience was humiliating, especially as it took place in his own hometown.