Racial profiling of Caribbean workers alleged

By Gerald V. Paul

Chris Ramsaroop
Chris Ramsaroop

A group that advocates for the rights of migrant workers alleges the OPP engaged in racial profiling when its officers took DNA samples from about 100 Caribbean migrant workers.

Outreach worker Chris Ramsaroop told The Camera “Justice For Migrant Workers (J4MW) has a complaint at the police oversight body in regards to the racial profiling of approximately 100 Caribbean migrant workers” in a sexual assault case.

Ramsaroop said the suspect was originally described as a Black male in his mid to late 20’s, 5-foot-11 and muscular. Ramsaroop said police tested males between 21 and 61 years old, standing between five feet and 6-foot-5 and weighing 130 to 310 lb. The sexual assault occurred in October 2013, allegedly by a migrant worker, in Vienna, Ontario, near Tillsonburg.

Police originally asked dozens of migrant workers for DNA samples but not from people who matched the specific suspect description, the advocacy group claims.

Ramsaroop questioned what happens if someone refuses a DNA request? “Do you become a greater suspect? That’s worrisome.””

He noted that in 2013, approximately 100 migrant workers were the subject of another mass DNA sweep near Tillsonburg.  J4MW filed a complaint, arguing the rights of Caribbean migrant workers were violated by that DNA sweep.

Ontario Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) Gerry McNeilly said, “Allegations that dozens of migrant workers were asked to submit to DNA tests for a criminal investigation did not match the description of the suspect except for the dark skin colour raises the spectre of racial profiling.”

However, OPP Sgt. Dave Rektor has denied any racial profiling. He said investigators followed the evidence within the parameters of the law, noting the DNA samples that were not a match of the accused were destroyed by the Centre for Forensic Science.

OPP arrested Henry Cooper, 35, a migrant worker from Trinidad and Tobago and charged him with sexual assault with a weapon, forcible confinement and uttering death threats. DNA evidence was a key to the arrest, the force says.

Gerald V. Paul
Gerald V. Paul